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Rituals to make our kids more Resilient

To safely interact online it is becoming increasingly evident that our kids are going to require more resilience than ever before. Whilst we like focus on teaching kindness and the importance of empathy, it is unfortunately very true of this new world, that when communicating online, we open ourselves up to all sorts of personalities and behaviours, some of which requires a very thick skin to overcome or ignore.

A recent study by Andrew Fuller, found that the common link between kids who were found to have characteristics of being resilient, also overwhelmingly reported to have parents who listened. Whilst there can be many factors that enable a parent to be a good listener, one way we can help this process is by providing our kids with family rituals. These rituals can be as simple as sitting down together as a family to the evening meal.

A recent study in the UK found that less than a third of families sit down together for regular meals (They also found, that in families where they did eat meals together, the children were found to concentrate better at school, have better social skills and get in to less trouble). Sometimes it isn’t always easy to sit down to a meal every night. Some families have shift workers, or kids that need to eat before mum or dad gets home, or kids that have sports practise. My own kids eat fairly late in comparison to many, but for me it is more important we have that time together sitting down as a family. But if it doesn’t work out that you can sit down to a family meal there are plenty of other ways you can create rituals. It is about those moments when your kids will one day look back and say “remember when we used to…”. I did it just the other day when I was talking to my dad and reminding my kids of our Saturday night ritual. My brother and I would go with dad to get fish and chips and whilst they were ‘cooking’ we would walk next door to the milk bar where we were allowed to meticulously choose a white bag full of mixed lollies. We had a Wednesday roast at my nannas for all the family, we had Sunday visits to grandparents, Christmas Eve carol singing and many other rituals that helped provide a plethora of great memories.

The family rituals not only provide a time for real conversation, connection and listening to each other, but they help provide that stable and secure environment. There doesn’t always even need to be a lot of talking. The reliability and comfort that comes with these ritualistic experiences can be crucial to a child’s sense of belonging. We also know that this sense of belonging helps give kids the confidence to enjoy positive relationships outside the family home, both online and in real life.

Whether it is a nightly meal, a weekly pizza outing, a family movie night, a boardgame night once a week, a Wii tournament, summertime beach cricket, a bedtime story or chat or a milkshake on the way home from basketball, rituals help facilitate the moments of connection between parents and kids.

In a world where resilience is going to be an essential element of living and interacting in a positive manner, we need to take every opportunity we can to help provide kids with the stable, supportive environments that helps them build on their resilience, their sense of self and their confidence in their place in the world.

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Amy@HandbagMafia

    So true- we rarely manage dinner at the table, I think I need to make more of an effort!

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Yes I think it is definitely worth the effort if you can make it work 🙂

  2. We do all these things you suggest. We eat together every dinnertime and on the weekend for lunch too. We have a weekly pizza night and christmas eve is always baked ham. We have a weekly family movie that is often accompanied with popcorn.

    Yet, I do not feel like it is working. Is there other thing I should be doing too? Or is this more of a time delay effect. Will we not realise the good we are doing now till later. Or is it my children (two with ASD) that just don’t pick up on the purpose behind my actions?

    Love to know your thoughts.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      The thing about creating these experiences for your kids Sarah, is that they are certainly long term and ongoing, as well as immediate. Most of us when we are growing up don’t realise the extent to which experiences help or hinder our development and resilience.We think it is all just normal or how everyone does things. It is not until we look back that we often realise the importance of certain aspects of our childhood and the effect they have had. And that is for all kids. I think you should certainly continue doing all the great things you are doing as a family as they will help your kids sense of belonging, their security and support.

  3. Lisa Turner

    I agree completely with this concept and fondly remember the rituals of my own childhood. We have dinner together almost every night (and often breakfast too). It’s not always easy or convenient but we’re always glad we’ve made the effort. We also take turns each night of stating one thing we’re thankful for and telling each other what was the best part of our day. It’s a good way to get the kids to talk about their day (as opposed to their usual “I can’t remember” response!)

    Great post, thank you.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Such a great idea Lisa. We know kids (and adults) aren’t great at answering the ‘how was your day?’ ‘what did you do?’ questions. Giving them a little direction always helps the conversation.

  4. Twitchy Sharon

    This is one of the best things I’ve read recently- mainly for the connection pointed out between personal resilience and having had parents who listened. I don’t think this applies just for kids- it’s possible it covers adults and their partners or significant figures.

    Last night my daughter had another epic screaming bedtime tantrum and kept coming out of bed over ostensibly a small issue. Going against my desire to throw her out the window and eat my dinner, I sat with her and the tears flowed about a painful social issue at school. I’ll be sharing this post wherever I can. Thank you. #teamIBOT

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thank you so much Sharon. Im glad you enjoyed. And you are right, certainly it applies to adults as well. I think like many aspects of parenting, doing what our instincts want us to do doesn’t always work. It is easy to get caught up in the frustration of a tantrum and want to punish, when we need to know that what they need most at those times is a listening ear. Thanks for sharing x

  5. EssentiallyJess

    Family time is so important in building identity I think. We really can’t undervalue it. We eat together most nights of the week, and try to enjoy family activities together as much as possible.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Yes Jess, there is nothing more important really 🙂

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