Fielding the Crushing Blows of Adolescence

Watching your kids suffer any kind of loss, humiliation, rejection, and loneliness is awful!  Sometimes you wonder if it’s worse for them or for you.

Even though you understand the need for them to learn from life’s ups and downs, you wish you could take it on your own shoulders and spare them the pain.

However, being prepared with what you can do to help your child in these tender moments deepens your relationship and helps your child prepare for the future.

Besides your loving support, these occasions call for a very sophisticated skill – one that without your help, your kids may NEVER learn.

I’m talking about RESILIENCE – the ability to bounce back from upsets of all kinds.   We know from our own experience how hard it is to bear up under even the mildest of setbacks.

Being resilient calls for grit, character, confidence, courage, and perseverance – all prerequisites for college and beyond!

There is NOTHING easy about building this skill and here’s why:

  • Living surrounded by affluence robs us of the natural experience of deprivation, the most fertile learning ground for this skill.  It’s tough to get good at bouncing back when you’re never truly down and out.
  • No one consciously seeks out opportunities to master this skill since it’s about hardship.
  • Parents can and do get in the way!  The urge to save their kids from any kind of upset is so strong, they often inadvertently block their child from building that muscle.

When kids are allowed to feel the pain, they learn how to dig deep (GRIT) to come up with strategies that will help them feel better – strategies they’ll use over and over.

In a world where kids have easy access to a whole array of illegal substances, learning to be resilient becomes critical.   Kids who are fortified with strategies that get them back on their feet and on their way are at a great advantage.  They give themselves permission to feel miserable, and then fight to press ahead with a solution.

As a parent, you know your kids see everything!  Therefore, modeling your own coping skills becomes a very powerful tool.  How well do you cope with a tough day?  Parents who openly verbalize their ‘need for a drink’ at the end of the day know how difficult it truly can be to manage emotions … and should therefore consider modeling healthier, more appropriate ways of calming and reseting their mood.  That is exactly what kids need to see!

What can you do? The key is to support your kids without rescuing them!

Here’s how to SUPPORT your kids:

  • LISTEN – Stay calm, composed and be all ears as they describe their problems and upsets to you, from THEIR POINT OF VIEW.  Keep your foot on the break resisting the desire to speed up the process or offer advice.
  • BRAINSTORM ‘COME BACK’ STRATEGIES – Ask them if they’d like to work together to come up with good strategies and solutions.  Allow them to lead this discussion.
  • FOLLOW THROUGH on the natural consequences of what happened and / or the consequences you both previously agreed to.  Clear the way for them to experience natural cause and effect even when it causes them discomfort, embarrassment etc.
  • Talk about HOW YOU COPE when you feel rejected, when you’re lonely, when you’ve failed in some way, when you can’t have what you want, when you’ve had a tough day at work, and on and on.

As you know all too well, parenting isn’t for the faint of heart! In your loving presence, they’ll feel safe to fail, learn, and grow and will get plenty of practice at bouncing back in a healthy way.

Your comments are always welcome. Please contact me!