Building Resilient Grandchildren

So little known fact but the original definition of the word resilience had to do with a material’s ability to resume its shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed. Today we commonly use the word to describe our ability to bounce back from adversity. … so I guess it really does fit the above definition.

My husband taught Jr. High for 30 years and used to say that he could tell the kids that had resience. He called it the “broken pencil” method. He would tell me how literally some kids when they broke their pencil lead would burst into tears.  They had no idea how to deal with set backs of any kind. So how can we as grandmas help teach our grandkids to be mroe resilient?

You can tell when your grandkids are becoming more reslient by how they react in stressful situations but how do you help build it?

Helping Grands to become more relient

As your kiddos develop resilience, they believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives through effort, imagination, knowledge, and skill. … thus they begine to focus on what they can do, what power they have to effect change rather then thinking of themselves as a vicrim or rather than on what is outside their control.

Here are a few ideas on how to help them:

  • Consistently offer desirable rewards for the actions and behaviors you would like to reinforce.

  • Praise your grandkids efforts.

  • Let then know that they are inherently worthy – to you and their family.

  • Help them to recognize failure as something that is temporary – and not as a bad thing but as a teaching tool.

  • Define success as something they can work towards through hard work and perserverience.

  • Let them know (if you have rules at your house) what they are and what the consequences are for not following the rules.

  • Help them to understand that consequences are natural – both good and bad.

Life is full of trials. This sounds a bit scary and we may wonder, can we be happy and at peace in the midst of trials and mistakes?

Attitudes of Resilience

We know two things about adversity and resilience: First, there is a natural law that what goes up must come down, which means we are always going to make mistakes because we are human – but mistakes are the best and easiest ways to learn. Teaching our grandkids this principle helps build resilience.

As children become resilient, they understand and accept this fact. They see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes. They view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn, and they accept that losing may precede winning.

As children learn this principle they develop resilence. They come to beleive they can influence and even control outcomes through their own effort, imagination and hard work. With this attitude they can focus on what THEY can do and not on things that are completely out of their control. I LOVE the attitude of Spanx founder Sara Blakely – do you think she’s reslient?

Another mark of resilience is to see great purpose and meaning in life and people. A sense of purpose will help our children avoid giving up, in spite of setbacks and pressure to do so. If our children are becoming more resilient, they will develop deep values that guide them: charity, virtue, integrity, honesty, work ethic,

Perfectionism Undermines Resilience

This is a great thing to remember as we teach our grands reslience – we are not looking for perfection! We are looking for ways for them to pick themselves up when they fall short of their desired outcome. We are looking for ways to help them to see their own good and their own power.

Doing things perfectly or even praising them without cause – does the same thing – it takes the power away from them and while you may think you are dong them a favor they learn that they have little power in their own lives.

Helping Grands Develop Resilience

Here are some recommendations for how we might apply these principles in our homes:

  • One great way is through personal prayer or meditation. Ask the Lord to help you know what to do to help your child understand their value and in the importance of relience.

  • Realize that children need time to develop resilience – so be patient with them.  It is a learned skill.

  • As stated above – change your outlook on failure – it really is the quickest teacher.

  • Allow for natural consequences – remember this little person will some day be a big person – help them become the big person that feels impowered.

  • Respect children’s decisions, even if their poor choices lead to lost privileges.

  • Do not discourage effort always let them know that taking action is always seen as a win even if they fall short of the desired outcome.

  • Praise effort rather than accomplishment. Take note of how hard they worked and the effort they put in.

  • A read a child psychoology book once that recommended that you praise your kids 2x as much as you correct them. I didn’t do such a great job of this with my kids – I’m hoping I can do better as a grandma.

  • Let them see by your words and actions how mistakes is the best teacher.

  • Model Good coping skills – how you respond to a disappointment while in the presence of your grandkids will teach them more than your words will.
  • Help your grands to stay positive during the hard times. Ask them what they learned and what part of it they can be grateful for.
  • Ask questions – use questions to help them solve and understand the situation. So many times it’s just easier to jump in – step back and let them solve their own problems by asking thought provoking questions.
  • Give them the opportunity to do hard things- Children must learn that they don’t have to want to do hard things; they just have to do them (this is a HUGE lesson). You can help them as a resource, but they can do a lot on their own. Help them problem solve and maybe point them in the right direction – but show them you have full confidence in them and their ability to succeed.

Research shows that a supportive, nurturing relationship with an adult is a strong predictor of resilience in children. Be that adult in their life!