How kids become resilient

This sweater seems innocent enough. But it’s not. This sweater is a monster.

How kids become resilient

You see, this sweater ruined a perfectly good Sunday morning recently. That’s because my wife and I made our four year old wear it to church. And apparently, it was one of the worst crimes you can commit as a parent.

I know this because for the entire time the sweater was on his back, Colton let us hear about it.

He was complaining about it when we put it on him. He was complaining about it when we dropped him off in his class. And when we picked him up two hours later…

What did you learn today, buddy?

I don’t want to wear this shirt!!

Clearly the day’s lesson did not sink in.

I’m not making fun of him though, far from it.

Because while Colton wasn’t exactly handling the situation well…as silly as it may have been…I know exactly how he felt and exactly why he was acting that way.

He learned it from me.

I’ve let things just as silly as a sweater dominate my thoughts and my attitude too…many times, actually…things like someone cutting me off in traffic or being out of my favorite cereal.

And not only has Colton seen me quote-unquote LOSE IT over the silliest things (seriously, I struggle when we’re out of Raisin Bran Crunch), I haven’t always helped him learn to deal with his own “silly” issues.

You see, with the small stuff…like sweaters with monsters on them, or having to drink milk instead of orange juice, or getting the red car instead of the blue one…I often tell him to just “get over it.”

Get over it.

Do you ever say that?

I think we all say that to our children sometimes.

But do you know what? It drives me bonkers when someones tells me that.

So, I’m not treating Colton the way I want to be treated.

Aside from correcting that parenting fail, if I truly want him to learn how to deal with small difficulties, then “get over it” may be the worst sentence I can utter. It isn’t helpful. In fact, when someone tells me to “get over it,” I become more under it than I was in the first place!

And yes, there are absolutely some things that our kids need to just get over. But the truth is, the ability to do that is a skill…an important skill that many young adults lack today. And the only way to gain it is to practice. The sooner, the better.

You see, our job as parents isn’t to shelter them from each and every difficult situation…as tempting as that is. Our job is to coach our children through difficult situations. Kids learn by doing. Avoidance teaches nothing, but practice makes perfect.

That’s how they learn to “get over it.” That’s how kids become resilient. And sometimes as parents that means knowing when to back away and let kids figure it out on their own…and other times that means knowing when to step in and talk them through it.

If our children don’t learn how to push through when small stuff doesn’t go their way today, they’ll never be able to handle the big stuff tomorrow. Because one day, they won’t get the promotion they were up for. Or they may lose their job altogether…and they’ll need to be able to deal with it. They’ll need to be able to bounce back. They’ll need to be resilient.

So, since parenting is a show and tell exercise and not a “do as I say, not as I do” exercise, I’m going to try to do a better job handling my own silly issues, like cereal. And I’m going to try to be intentional about teaching my children resilience.

Let’s all teach our kids to be resilient.

Their future selves are counting on it.

Stephen

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