Resilience (from dictionary.com): 1. Power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc, after being bent, compressed or stretched; elasticity. 2. Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy; spring back.
My friends’ children, 4 and 5 years of age, are riding their bicycles without training wheels. They went out for a ride with their dad, doing well, but the 4 year old was going faster and she took her feet off the pedals because she was scared and she crashed into her dad. The 5 year old was going ahead of them on their way back home and he was told to slow down. He put the brakes on too fast and got thrown off the bike. Both children are doing alright, even with the scrapes, bumps, and bruises. This happened 2 weeks ago, and just this past Friday, the whole family went out and rode the same area as before. The son told his mom that he would not put the brakes on that hard this time. They both learned a lot from the accidents as well as the importance of not being afraid to get back on their bikes.
Young children are a little better with resilience than teenagers or adults. It’s almost like the “NO FEAR” light of small children does not have a warning button to proceed with caution. My 13 month old crawls over the couches and expects us to be there, which we are, but he has fallen, cried, and gotten back up, crawling and then walking all over the place. Teens and adults are a little bit more aware and cautious about getting hurt because it is painful. Teens and adults also seem to be more self-conscious about who is watching them and how they will look; they also have a lot of guilt when things are not done well.
How does resilience look? Well, with my friends’ kids, they crashed but got back up on their bikes. Their scrapes and cries were attended to, and they got back on their bikes. With my son, he was attended to when he would fall, and he soon was back to playing or walking around. Their feelings were VALIDATED and RECOGNIZED, and then they were ENCOURAGED to try again. They may have had some fears, which is natural, but I do not think there was enough fear to hold them back.
Resilience can be applied in any situation. Re-read the definition for resilience and try to think about the way that resilience can be applied to any situation. It’s about getting back up and trying again. Now, the other side of getting back up and re-doing something is that there may need to be a difference from the first time. For example: If losing weight is the goal, then we begin working out and changing eating habits. If we have done that before and not had a whole lot of results, then we try again but maybe get a trainer (if it fits the budget), look at our portions, set a goal for a 5K run, or something. WE CHANGE OUR THINKING.
How we see or think about a particular situation does affect our ability to move forward. I think this is one of the most challenging issues that all people face—well, maybe not young children! When the thoughts are changed and a person sees that things can still be different even if it appears to be more challenging, then resilience is definitely able to grow.
So, to build resilience within your children or yourself: Validate and Recognize the feelings about what is or has happened and then Encourage to TRY AGAIN!
Building resilience IS possible, so Go For It!
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