She bent down and tied up her 9-year-old’s shoe strings. Remarkably, the little guy is a bright, and potentially capable, boy. Millennials (those born between the mid-1990s to early 2000s) are often times called The Me Me Me Generation. They tend to be over-protected from challenge, consequences, and tears. As the family researcher, Jean Illsley Clark, reports in her book, How Much Is Enough?, this parental tendency to over-protect continues. The sad news is that our children’s resilience is being compromised!
At a Family Service Canada symposium for Family Educators, I learned about the work of Dr. Wayne Hammond. Below are researched ways to nurture resiliency in our children.
Protective Factors Include Intrinsic and Extrinsic Elements
Note: Intrinsic refers to personal and internal processes. Extrinsic refers to the outside environment.
Intrinsic Components or Assets
- Empowerment involves children feeling a sense of safety; safe to simply be and express what they think and feel.
- Self-concept involves children believing they are capable, loved and valued. They have a sense of purpose by using their strengths. It includes healthy self-esteem and self-efficiency.
- Self-control is about the ability of children to restrain themselves for a long term and healthy outcome. It means resisting temptation, being able to say “no” and demonstrating self-discipline.
- Social sensitivity means that children can act with care, empathy, support, equality, and justice.
- Cultural Sensitivity is an indicator that children have the ability to accept diversity in spirituality, race and the background of others.
Parents can encourage internal resiliency by:
- teaching and acknowledging feelings;
- supporting children’s strengths, gifts, and passions;
- asking for children’s opinions;
- avoiding rescuing them; that is protecting them from consequences of their behaviors;
- teaching empathy, care, and manners;
- turning mistakes into learning opportunities;
- acknowledging success moments;
- teaching problem solving and following through with consequences;
- truly listening;
- participating in spiritual and/or religious activities;
- inviting different kinds of people into family life;
- teaching traditions, beliefs & values.
Extrinsic Components or Assets
- Families make a positive difference in their children’s lives when they show care, provide positive role models, support them in tough times, have high expectations, and are involved in their schools.
- Peers can have a positive influence if they act responsibly.
- Learning at school happens when children work at achieving, attend regularly and diligently do their homework.
- School staff make a positive difference when they set clear rules and boundaries while providing a caring and inspiring atmosphere with high expectations of behavior.
- Communities make a positive difference to children when rules and clear boundaries are known and followed through. Resilience is also built when healthy adults are available as role models and neighborhoods demonstrate care.
Parents can influence their children’s environment by:
- making their love and limits known;
- apologizing when in error;
- engaging in activities they love;
- becoming as healthy as they know how;
- choosing healthy friends;
- having time available to BE THERE;
- volunteering at their children’s school
- supporting appropriate school consequences;
- expecting their children to succeed;
- holding children responsible for their choices and behavior;
- knowing their children’s friends;
- making their children’s friends welcome in their home;
- supporting consistent study habits;
- providing a quiet place to do homework;
- setting a specific time for homework;
- ensuring children know school rules;
- working as a team with the school;
- working as a team with the principal and teachers;
- knowing teachers’ expectations;
- explaining and supporting civil laws and their consequences;
- choosing a caring community with healthy values;
- coaching or participating with other people’s children.
Consider putting into action one or two of the ideas listed above. You will help develop your children’s resilience. Just watch their capacity to cope with challenge increase along with their sense of confidence!
Note: The primary source of the above information is the work of Dr. Wayne Hammond of Resiliency Initiatives.