How can we help our children & teenagers to be more resilient, to ride out the bad times as well as enjoy the good times with confidence and competence? And how can we, as parents, give our kids the tools and strategies to grow into capable, independent, resilient (& mindful) young adults?
These are important questions in light of the facts from BeyondBlue (http://www.youthbeyondblue.com/footer/stats-and-facts)that one in 16 young Australians is currently experiencing depression and one in six young Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety condition.
I have had these questions at the forefront of my mind this week as I get ready to facilitate some Positive Discipline Workshops. Each time it has been raining after school and I consider whether to pick my children up from school or not, when my daughter forgot to put her school uniform in the wash or when my kids wake up late for school and beg for a lift instead of catching the bus or when it just hasn’t been possible to get them to their favourite sport / activity! Sometimes I help them out because, well I’m their Mum and I like nurturing them a bit!, but when I don’t / can’t I keep reminding myself (& them if appropriate!) that I’m helping them to become more resilient (hopefully)!!
Positive Discipline (www.positivediscipline.com) is a fun, interactive parenting workshop and it focuses on teaching parents 4 key strategies to help them to raise resilient kids. These are:
- Help our children learn how to deal with BIG feelings but don’t protect or rescue our children from feeling them! Disappointment, rejection, anger and frustration are all a part of life and it is vital we learn how to cope with them. As parents we can empathise with our children, name our child’s feelings and take the time to teach our kids how to self-soothe & self regulate using mindfulness strategies (appropriate for their age level). Sometimes as parents we need to learn some mindfulness strategies on how to self-soothe & self regulate our own emotions too to role model to our children how to deal with the things life can throw at us!
- Be both kind & firm with our children, keep firm boundaries that help our children to feel secure and comfortable while still providing love and acceptance. Our children will constantly test these boundaries and become angry or upset when they don’t get their own way but this just provides another learning opportunity to teach children how deal with BIG emotions, a vital skill to learn! In my experience this takes a huge amount of mindfulness to see your child be frustrated & angry with you but to stand firm in a calm & kind way (I’m still working on this one!)
- Teach our children how to create a plan B and how to move from plan A to plan B with flexibility (again mindfulness skills are so helpful in this!). This gives children the strength to not give up, to keep problem solving, keep persisting and get there in the end! The more we can role model doing this, in a mindful way, the more likely our children are to learn how to do it too! I am now trying to talk to my kids about when my plan A doesn’t work out and what I do (e.g. take a deep breath, step back and look at my options etc) to move as calmly as I can to plan B, or C, or Z as often the case may be!)
- Encourage and teach our children to be capable & self-reliant and have a strong belief in themselves as capable & competent human beings! This can involve encouraging kids to do their own problem solving, make their own choices/decisions (within your limits), contribute to the running of the household and have input into family meetings / family decisions, depending on their age level. This one takes a huge amount of mindfulness as it is so often easier to jump in and rescue or do it ourselves. We often have to let go of our standards, let go of how others might judge us and mindfully encourage or teach our child to do things for themselves. This means reconsidering
‘Never do for a child what a child can do for himself’ (a guiding principle of Positive Dsicipline) – a good reminder for us as parents that children feel a great sense of internal mastery when they are able to take on a challenge and successfully complete it using their own skills and problem solving! This can be more powerful than receiving praise from parents and instead we need to hold the space for our kids to have a go at doing things, show them we have faith they can work it out and to encourage them for their effort and not for the outcome!
More Information about workshops etc is available at Facebook: Mindful Parenting: Support & Education or http://www.,mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com