Tuesday, April 6, 2010

tips for raising resilient children part 2

Children have an imaginary tool kit hanging off their shoulder. A simple metaphor to remember in building resilience in children is the more tools in their tool kit, the more resilient that they will be.

Maggie Dent "10 Resilience Building Blocks for Children"

Yesterday in  "Tips for Raising Resilient Children Part 1" we looked at ways to help the children in your lives develop "bounce-back-ability" through play - and plenty of it!

Today I want to look at another way to add tools to your child's resiliency tool belt - by fostering self mastery

Sometimes we need to step back.
I saw many children in my most recent early childhood work, whom I feared lacked resilience, relying very much on their over involved parents who scheduled and controlled way too much of their time.
This comment from Christie at Childhood 101 had me thinking:  are we stopping our kids from experiencing the disappointment, challenge, failure and boundaries needed to become resilient by doing too much for them?

Stepping back a little and giving kids the time and space to do and experience things for themselves helps them to feel:
  • capable
  • accomplished
  • worthwhile
These are all valuable tools to put in your child's tool belt says says Maggie Dent, who lists 'self mastery' as one of the 10 important building blocks for resilience.

How do we help our children feel capable?

• Find special interests when your child is young and encourage these.
• Help your child to be able to express himself, and listen when he does.
• Allow your child to experience failure and conflict. 
• Remember that the small things are the big things – buttons, shoe laces, climbing trees.
• Have patience.  Self mastery takes time and many repeated attempts.
• Seek and encourage unique strengths in each sibling.
• As your child gets older, encourage mastery in “real” tasks like cleaning shoes or making lunches.
• Encourage an awareness and respect of the environment and the natural world.

So next time I tie my 6 year olds shoes for him because I want to hurry, or (ever so gently!) discourage him from preparing his own lunch because I can't stand the mess I will have to take a deep breath, count to ten and picture that tool belt hanging over his shoulder.

You might also enjoy: tips for raising resilient children Part 1


  1. Yep ... I probably would have done things a little differently with my own children if I'd known back then what I know now! There is so much information out there for parents today. It's now our job to get that information across to them. Thanks for making a difference Jenny
    :) :)

  2. Thanks for your lovely comment :) Its a bit overwhelming with all the information out there for parents: no wonder we all walk around feeling guilty half the time!

  3. I read this yesterday, Jenny, and was in a hurry so didn't leave a comment.

    Today I was watching a couple boys argue over an umbrella. They were quite heated, yelling, resorting ultimately to shouting, "Yes!" "No!" "Yes!" "No!" at one another. Normally, I would have seen it as my job to intervene at that point and help them resolved their differences, but having read this post I thought about allowing them to experience real conflict and just stood back.

    I'd seen the whole thing building and knew that one of the boys was definitely in the "right." I was proud of how he stood up for himself, even though he was a year younger and a year smaller. After a bit, the older boy relented. It was a wonderful thing to behold. Justice prevailed and they both knew it. Thanks Jenny!