Developing and nurturing emotional resilience in kids is more important than ever. Be it in attaining success, self-satisfaction and happiness, to ultimately sustaining it – emotional resilience plays a key role. This article explores the importance of this quality and explains why it is so important to start helping your kids build this for themselves. Read on!
While I was growing up, the usual topics of discussion between my parents and their acquaintances would go something like this: how many rental properties my uncle has added or how lavish our neighbour’s daughter’s marriage arrangement was. If I was around, the topic of discussion would change to my test scores, my obedience, or my height; often they would praise the great qualities of my high scoring peers. Of course, back then comparison was the ultimate motivation tool.
Anyhow, that made it clear to me that my academic success, designation, and salary package would define my success and my looks would determine my preference over others. Fortunately, I never cared much about my looks and thanks to my amazing friends my pursuit to success became both do-able and enjoyable. They were truly my pillars in times of emotional stress and negativity. Decades later, as I’m raising my daughter the success parameters have gone through a major transition. Designations, applause and money are still important to an extent, but they are not enough to ensure her happiness and sustain her success especially in this changing world. As the enlightened ones have said: “Getting success is tough, but sustaining it is even tougher”.
In the past few years with the tremendous growth of social media, we are way more connected to each other than ever before, yet do you feel the connection? Our human touch points are getting limited to right and left swipes and our world has diminished to 6-inch screens. Unfortunately, our kid’s confidence and self-worth rely heavily on other’s responses, likes, and shares. In this age of cyber zombies, where superficiality, insecurities, and fake personas are dominating and true relationships are in scarcity, it is highly important for parents to nurture their kid’s emotional resilience, a trait crucial to achieve and sustain success.
Emotionally resilient children are motivated to work for themselves rather than to meet other’s expectations. They embrace their failures with a new hope and are not afraid to seek help in stress-filled challenging times.
The good news is that emotional resilience is not something one is born with, it’s a skill children develop as they grow.
What role can we play to foster emotional resilience in our children?
Be their emotional haven
It all starts with trust and this trust is the by-product of all the things we say and practice with them. Creating emotionally safe environment, where one feels safe and welcomed to share his/her vulnerabilities, through moments of “us-time” is a great way to build trust.
“Us-time” is the time in addition to what we spend playing with them, teaching or feeding them. It is a collection of those special moments when we stop behaving as a parent and let go of our egos and social guards; where both you and your child are treated equally. Each with real problems and matters to discuss and where no moment is jeopardized with quick fixes, judgement or corrections.
Here is my personal experience of “us-time” with my daughter:
My daughter and my neighbour’s daughter are best friends since their early childhood. They joined the same school, where the dynamics of their friendship got a little complicated as our neighbour’s daughter made another good friend there. This was really hard for my daughter to understand.
She is kind of a kid who doesn’t share easily, so she never expressed her sadness fully. But her daily enthusiasm of going to the school was getting lower. She would often say: “I don’t want to go to the school” (a behaviour I found completely normal from a 4-year-old; who really likes to go to school unless it’s a picnic day or your birthday?)
One day over lunch, I asked her why she is not enjoying her school as much as before. Her eyes got gloomy and with a sad voice she said, “because I don’t have any friends there”. That broke my heart and I instantly jumped to solutions or rather quick fixes, “you know, you should try to make new friends; friends keep changing with time…blah blah”. She listened and the conversation ended there. I knew it didn’t work.
One night, when we were tucked away in our quilts, lights were off, story time was over, I started with my own story – how I switched to different schools and how I was unable to make friends there and how sad I used to be and cried over it. I believe during those moments of finding similarity in our troubles, we started weaving threads of that special connection. That night, she opened up a little more and that’s when I was able to convey that it’s okay being sad and I’m there for her and that she could try to change things.
My learning out of this – every child is wired differently; understand your kid and don’t push them into talks they don’t want to indulge in, they might not be ready yet. There could be a specific time or moment during a day when they would feel safe enough to share their heart out with you, just make sure you are there for them.
Remember, vibes matter more than the words
We might be uttering the most soothing and praising words, but our kid might not trust us fully. It’s true that vibes reach before words. Our child’s state of emotional safety is driven greatly by the kind of vibes we send them.
Believe in them
Make them believe that you are there for them and you love them with all their weaknesses and strengths, and they are truly excellent even if they are failing at simple 2+2.
It’s a process which needs regular iterations. Often you would get judgmental, lose your cool, or reject their problems. Remember, there is no perfect emotional haven: any steps toward strengthening your child’s trust in you is a success.
Thus ends part 1 of my 2 series narrative. In this I have (hopefully) established the importance of emotional resilience in kids. In our next encounter, I will share with you different ways through which you can help your kids connect with their emotional selves, and thereby establish a strong emotional resilience. Till then, don’t forget to enjoy some special ‘us time’!