Feel, Rest, Play: Raising Resilient Kids
Posted on: September 13, 2019.

Resilience is a virtue most parents want their kids to have, for them to be successful in life. But what actually is “resilience”? Is it about our kids toughing it out after a setback? Is it about them still being able to move forward without fuss, after a setback?

‘Toughing it out’ and real resilience are two very different things. ‘Resistance’ is actually a lot noisier and messier than ‘resilience’ which is calm and subtle. A child, who has faced a setback, returning to productivity with a pleasant, positive outlook is what real resilience is. It is the ability to remain soft-hearted even after having weathered the phase of setback.

Three key elements—like the three sides of a triangle—would explain resilience in simple terms.

Feelings. Rest. Play.

When a person, irrespective of age, is full of feelings, full of rest, and full of play, he or she is thriving.

Feeling

For a child to be able to feel his or her feelings is the first step to true resilience—the base line of the Resilience Triangle. Harrumphing, pouting, complaining, arguing, venting frustrations verbally, voicing opinions, being upset and annoyed—all of which is noisy—are actually signs that a child is emotionally healthy.

Children making noise about what’s going on in their world is a measure of their emotional health. What goes a long way in growing a child’s resilience is the freedom to express their feelings and have them heard and responded to. Certain children, who internalize their frustration, can be quite the opposite—quiet, unresponsive or withdrawn. This could be a troubling indication that there’s a whole lot of shut down going on.

Silence is difficult to understand—silent children could either be playing quietly and confidently, or they could be building a wall to hide behind. The need to feel deeply is the prerequisite to be emotionally healthy. We, as parents, need to, in a really healthy way, help our kids unlock their difficult feelings.

Rest

This element forms the right side of the Resilience Triangle. An exhausted child is one who always strives to do right in every single area. An effective way to relieve your child of the pressure of having to do a job perfectly every single time, is to allow children to make mistakes and make space to accommodate it.

A child will constantly work hard, and consequently get restless and anxious, to get our attention and affection, if he or she isn’t ‘resting’ in our parental love. This happens when everyone in the family is busy and, unintentionally though, neglect the child.

A child can never say, “Look at me, here I am. Meet me.” Instead, what any child would do to attract his or her parents’ attention is what parents would mistake for “bad behavior”. Developing resilience wholly depends on you, as a parent, to allow your child to rest in your time, love, and attention.

Play

This element completes the Resilience Triangle. ‘Feelings’ and ‘rest’ need to be satisfied for ‘play’ to emerge from a child, an amazing thing that succeeds feeling, and finding enough rest. What brings children to life is creativity and a spark of curiosity. What they were born to do is play, which is energizing as it is not outcome-based and where children can, officially, lose track of time.

Children cannot access their imagination or creativity if they are busy craving to have their needs met, which only catalyzes their emotional hunger, the opposite of play. What fuels kids is our attention and affection. It is in the spontaneous nature of children to venture out to explore and engage fully with their world.

When our kids are fully content of having been seen, heard and understood by us, it’s like a good solid meal to them. For the true resilience of our kids to emerge, they need to play.


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