10 Essential Lessons for Life: Be Resilient
She walked about twenty paces behind me all through the store, pure angst and devastation on her face. But she’s resilient; she can make it through this. The biggie is…can I?
Lessons in Parenting
Once again, I give you a series of insights that will hopefully motivate and inspire you with your own family. These core lessons and values are the foundation of our family. We will continue to grow throughout our lifetime, and there is no way we can teach our children everything. Yet these lessons are the pinnacle of what we believe in. It's not just us parents teaching our children, either.
The first five lessons are what we've imparted to our daughters. These last five are the valuable lessons they've taught us.
If you missed the first eight lessons, here you go:
Lesson #9: Be Resilient
“Oh hunny, why are you sad?”
“Poor baby, she’s so upset!”
At this point my four year old daughter, caught up in her large emotions, had had enough. She was angry because I wouldn’t carry her through the whole store, she played the sadness card, and it didn’t deliver the right result. You see, Jules does not appreciate being coddled or babied by anyone other than her mommy. She didn't want sympathy from others, or for them to "fix it" for her. She wanted one thing, and I wasn't giving it to her.
Instead of me caving, I had calmly told her that no, she’s a big girl that can walk. I can’t carry her and push the cart, but she can walk with me.
Flashback to the world Jules created for herself:
I can’t walk! I’m too slow! No one loves me! This is the worst trip ever!
As a parent, I could rush in and support her. I could love her through the storm and assure her that she will get “big enough” one day, and I’ll carry her until she is.
But life doesn’t work that way. As much as I can, I want to say yes. But there are times I just can’t. I have to teach my children to be resilient. I won’t always be there to pick them up.
Jules knew I wouldn’t leave her. I don’t play that game. She knew I was watching out for her - that’s why she was working it so hard. But the attention she got was pity from strangers. This did her no good, and, quite honestly, really pissed her off.
Her angst turned to anger as others tried to make her smile. She wasn’t ready to smile, and she didn’t appreciate being told how to feel (hmm, can you relate?)
When Do We Allow Big Emotion?
There is definitely a time and a place for a meltdown…and yet, when do we assure our kids that yes, right now is when they can absolutely lose their cool and collapse? Most likely that doesn’t happen.
We see raging emotions and we nip it in the bud.
Don’t cry. Don’t rage. You’re okay. That didn’t hurt. You are resilient.
The definition of resilience means we are able to bounce back - but that means we have to feel the fall first. Remember empathy. You may not feel the same extreme response, and it may be insignificant to you, but it's not for your child. Just this week on a coaching mastermind call, we talked about how:
Being a coach is more than just being an empathetic listener. It should give you the skills to allow you to EXPAND that empathy beyond just your own personal struggle.
What is big in their world may seem insignificant to you, but to them…it’s everything.
If It's Important To You...
My mother has a plaque she created to go with her “Creating a Haven of Peace” book that says “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.” This was a big thing for me growing up. She validated me in my emotions no matter how ridiculous they may have appeared. The met me where I was and helped me ride out the storm.
So Jules was upset. In her world, this burden of walking on her own two legs was just too much for her to carry. I could have forced her to “buck up” and put a smile on her face. But how easy is it for you to force a change in emotions just like that? This kiddo is four.
So she sulked. She moped, acted out the most extreme of sadness and rejection, dragged her feet and lagged further and further behind.
And I stood strong. I had eyes on her, alright, but I made it clear that I was going to move forward and get that shopping done, and that I’d love for her to join me when she was ready. She’s resilient. I knew she’d come to me when she was ready.
Allow for Space
Giving her the space to grieve her lost battle was needed. She needed to process through it. It didn’t take long for her to grow tired of the unwanted advice and attention from strangers and to run up and hold my hand.
I welcomed her back to our happy shopping trip and immediately involved her in what I was looking at. Her attitude shifted, I got giggles, and we moved forward with ease.
"Resilience doesn’t come when we don’t allow our children to process. If you want your child to be resilient, you have to allow them the opportunity to experience the emotion and get through it."
I love you and your passion for life. You feel everything to the core of your soul, and you aren’t afraid to express it. I am your parent, and it’s my job - my gift to you - to help you navigate this big ole’ world and not let it bring you down. You are resilient.
Ride this wave and feel that big feeling. I’m there for you. I can’t carry you through all of life. There are so many great things to explore that are waiting for you. I am human, too. Sometimes my legs hurt and my back hurts and I simply cannot carry you. I know you’ve felt that.
In this life, people will let you down. No one can please everyone all the time. There will be disappointment, hurt, sadness and frustration. But just like the seasons of life, it will pass. You won’t stay four forever. Your legs will grow big and strong as you exercise them and use them. You will also feel things like anger and sadness. But that helps you to really be thankful for happiness and joy.
I’ll give you space to feel - because those feelings are your own and they are okay to have. And I will love you through them. I’m your mommy when you're mad, sad, and happy. And I promise you, there will be happiness again.
The Sun Will Shine Again
Allow your children to weather their own storms. Give them a safe place to process, and help them navigate how to handle their emotions in an effective way. Letting children feel and process doesn’t mean you have to tolerate a temper tantrum every five minutes.
It’s a lot easier to try and control anger and sadness when it’s something we deem as petty. Not being carried or getting a toy is no big deal in our world. But how do we have those same children “buck up” when parents divorce, or their dog is hit by a car? These are legitimate emotions that we can’t just take away or erase. They have to be able to navigate through them. And the best way to do it is to learn in those seemingly “petty” situations.
I want Jules to navigate her sadness for not being carried to better equip her for the bigger sadness of losing someone she loves. Because as much as I want to protect her from that, there is a large chance that will happen in her lifetime.
Helpful Tips For Big Emotions:
Here are some tips we’ve used:
- It’s okay to be angry or sad – but if that anger and sadness escalates to screams that make people cringe, that’s not okay. You can feel your feelings – but do not force it on others. (reminder – what you do impacts others – respect their ears).
- Angry Scribbles: When you are angry, create an angry scribble drawing. This is fun for kids of all ages – just scribble it all out – bright colors, harsh lines…it helps!
- Journal – write out every emotion in a big brain dump. It’s better to get it out than keep it in.
- Take some alone time. Sit with your feelings. Go for a walk (or a run). Give space.
- Listen to music – find a song that fits your feeling. Then find a different song and see how that makes you feel.
- Pay attention to others – what emotion are they feeling? How are they handling it? Observe what others do.
- Practice makes “perfect.” None of us are ever going to be truly perfect. But the more we practice navigating our emotions, the more we are able to weather the ups and downs of life.
Emotions are a significant part of who we are. ALL emotions are valid, and they all have their place in this complex brain that makes us human. So let your children feel, experience, process and move on. Allow them to learn how to be resilient.
How do you foster resilience in your children? Give an example of an emotion your child has had to navigate through.
And this week, the next time you want to nip that obnoxious emotion in the bud, consider whether you should simply allow it to work it’s way through. Like a splinter, oftentimes it can work itself out.