If you are anything like me, your children's well being is
first and foremost in your mind. That first day of preschool or kindergarten when your child waves "Bye, mom," and you realize that the world can hurt them. You won't always be there to shield, protect or defend them.
The idea that they could be bullied, pushed, misunderstood or not liked is a painful thought. It's enough to make us stay home, shut the world out or move to a safer place.....hmmm.
And despite the impossibility of succeeding at this or our need to feel super mommish, this doesn't prepare our children for the world. And like it or not, they are in the world.
What can we do to prepare our children? How do we raise resilient kids? How can our children be equipped with the tools and resources to stand firm, feel understood and be able to repair.
"At home, in school and on the playground, all children experience disappointment, frustration and failure; criticism and disapproval; and exclusion by peers."
We often tell kids to let it roll off of them, push back, or
"don't let it bug you." In truth, that doesn't help our kids. It does matter, it does hurt. Without realizing it, we send a message to our kids that we don't get it. If that is a common conversation, you will end up with a kid who doesn't talk to you, doesn't feel understood, doesn't think there is a solution. Or perhaps even worse, a kid who uses physical means to "show them."
In every family, there will be moments of anger and misunderstanding.
As parents, it is important for us to recognize these common injuries and provide some healing of a child’s discouragement and anger. Often, a simple acknowledgment of her disappointment or frustration is all that is necessary.
Children learn invaluable lessons from moments of repair. They learn that, although it is not always easy, moments of anxiety, sadness and anger are moments and can be repaired. Disappointments, in themselves and in others, are part of life, and feelings of anger and unfairness do not last forever.
In healthy development, children recover from these moments. Whether on their own or with our support, most children bounce back.
If you are reading this and feeling ill equipped, seek out some assistance from a therapist who is knowledgeable about children and their development.
Excerpted from: Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems written by
Kenneth Barish, Ph.D. He is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Weill-Cornell Medical College.