Resilience – Kath Curran
Looking for inspiration for the Family Connect column I re-read a blog by our Bright Futures home based early childhood education service manager, Andrea Driver, who wrote about growing resilient children for today. Andrea was discussing the role that early childhood educators play in fostering and nurturing the strengths in our preschool children to become competent and confident learners.
One particular paragraph in her article stood out for me, as a parent; “Parents can help build children’s resilience by modelling how they manage and get through stress, hardship and trauma. When parents model calmness and an ability to be flexible with everyday stress, they are showing their children how to cope and promote resilience.”
It is hard, I find, on a day-to-day level of parenting, to show consistency in how my sons see me respond to stress. Like, for instance, when I was being a passenger in the car with learner drivers, both my sons would give me a report score at the end of the ‘lesson’ as to how I performed in terms of the vibe I was giving out. And fair call, they were right as I found that particular job of parenting teenagers really uncomfortable. On some of the bigger stuff, like when hospital trips are involved, I’ve thankfully had more favourable scorecards.
There’s no shortage of the list that pushes buttons in a family but how we recover from any fallout not only relies on a solid, loving relationship with our children – a sense of humour absolutely helps too – but our children having self-belief that they can get through hard times intact.
If we measure our resilience on how successfully we manage our lives in terms of the ways we react, respond and adapt when we face challenges, hurt and disappointment then the resilience factor is something to keep nurturing right through our lives. When the seemingly day-to-day dramas can easily unravel us then we are in a very fragile state. The big knocks like grief, loss, separation, ill health and trauma test our self-belief to the core.
It’s not a matter of hardening up but quite the opposite. Finding our strengths in the face of adversity means being open to understanding where we draw our strength from and building on those foundations. These foundation blocks build up our resilience and therefore our wisdom and draw from a range of areas that could include friendships, family, work, parents, community connectedness, our knowledge and skills. It also means that if one part of our life is being depleted or knocked about the other areas are still there to hold us up.
When we model healthy responses to stressful situations our children take in and then take on what they observe and so we have the opportunity to build on one of their sources of strength as they develop their own resilience.