The Championship Fathering blog by Carey Casey
Life is full of frustrations. Flights leave late. Cell phone batteries die. People on the freeways curse and gesture like crazy.
That’s what I often see in my world, and in those situations I try to ask myself: What would my pop say? When things didn’t go my way as a child, he would tell me, “Son, don’t lose your mind. Keep your poise.” Today, even at my age, I’m still learning how important that is.
There are plenty of things in our children’s world to frustrate them as well. They might be slighted by a sibling or classmate, fail an exam, lose a game, have difficulty solving a problem, or simply fall down and hurt themselves. (I still do that sometimes myself.)
Our children experience a lot of these negatives, but we want them to rise above it all. My pop said, “Keep your poise,” but he was really teaching us to be resilient Tweet this! , although he probably never used that word. But how do we foster that resilience in our children? For me, these 4 thoughts come to mind:
First, we model it. As a father, a big part of my role is to keep my poise. We all go through things as husbands, as leaders, as fathers. Our kids look to us for stability, that calm confidence in the face of life’s ups and downs Tweet this! . We can’t get caught up in the trash talking and anger and fear that we see around us; it will affect our children!
It’s also true when our children play a part in our anger and frustration. It happens, right? Our children are immature; they are going to lose their minds sometimes, and there’s little we can do about it. But we have to maintain our poise. They are watching to see how we will respond, and our ability to stay calm will leave lasting impressions on them.
Second, we have to let our children fail. This is one of the most difficult things about being a parent. Since we’re wiser and have years of experience, we can help our kids avoid a lot of difficulties. And when they do struggle or make a mistake, we can swoop in and fix it pretty quickly. But in doing so, we rob our children of valuable opportunities to learn lessons and grow in character.
Children need to start dealing with minor failures at a pretty young age, when consequences are real, but not overwhelming. Tweet this! That will give them years of practice bouncing back and moving on. If they can learn to deal with strained relationships, broken gadgets, and neglected homework during childhood, they’ll develop character traits that will help them avoid similar struggles as adults, when a marriage, a house, a career, or thousands of dollars might be hanging in the balance.
Third, it’s important to listen to our kids. Sure, they’re dealing with issues that may not seem all that significant, those issues are very important to them in the moment and we must not belittle their feelings. Even when their ideas are ignorant or off-the-wall, we need to give them a safe place to express those feelings and ideas. When we demonstrate that we’re concerned and willing to hear to whatever is on their minds, our kids learn that we’re there for them, and we can be trusted.
Resiliency is a fantastic goal with our children – but it will take time … and a lot of grace.Click to tweet
And fourth, we need to coach them for life. There are two key ideas at work here: preparation and encouragement. When kids are prepared for a situation, they’re less anxious; they’re more likely to keep their poise; they are more likely to operate based on their inner character, and less likely to be influenced by their peers or negative outside influences.
Then, when our children do fail or face disappointment, we are there to listen and reassure them that “It’ll be okay.” We express confidence that they can and will handle it well—and in most cases, we make it clear that it’s up to them to deal with it. One great statement to have ready sounds something like this: “That’s really tough, son. I know you’ll handle it fine. What do you plan to do?” And of course, we’re nearby if they need to talk through that plan.
Resiliency is a fantastic goal with our children. But please remember that it’s a long-term goal. It will take time. So give them—and yourself—a lot of grace along the way. In time, your children will give you plenty of reasons to be proud.
- Provide opportunities for your child to interact with people in a variety of situations. A part-time job, volunteer service project, or helping with a civic event are great settings to learn and practice cooperation, compromise, problem solving, and so on.
- Insist that your kids resolve their own conflicts. Offer suggestions and clarify boundaries, but let them negotiate and find a workable solution.
What would you add? How have you helped your child develop resiliency? Tweet this! I hope you will leave a comment either below or at our Facebook page.
Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering (NCF), as well as a husband, father, and grandfather. He is author of Championship Fathering, co-author of It’s Great Being a Dad, and general editor of The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge. See more about Carey here.
NCF is a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. We encourage you to help us change the culture of fathering in America by joining the Championship Fathering Team. You can also sign up for NCF’s Today’s Father Weekly email here.