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How can we develop resilience in children?

Developing resilience is something we hear a great deal about.. ..but what exactly does it mean, and why should we foster Web_28resilience in our children?

Resilience is a word used to describe the ability to bounce back from bad stuff that life deals out to us all occasionally.

It’s important to develop resilience in our children because current research shows that it is one of the protective factors against mental health issues later in life. (http://www.catholic.tas.edu.au/Resources/documents/kidsmatter-1/risk-and-protective-overview.pdf)

According to Andrew Fuller (Raising Real People Creating a Resilient Family, ACER Press 2002) there are many ways to develop resilience in children but the most important include:

  1. Promoting a sense of identity by creating family times where all members are values for their differences.
  2. Setting age appropriate boundaries and being consistent in enforcing them.
  3. Encouraging children to feel valued by allowing them to have some age appropriate responsibilities.
  4. Develop diverse friendship groups in children by encouraging outside school interests.
  5. Creating and maintaining family rituals such as birthdays or goodnight rituals.
  6. Children are at school for a long time so be careful to select a school, if possible, that best matches your child’s “fit”.
  7. Have positive expectations for your child.
  8. If possible, link children up with a caring adult who is outside of the family.
  9. Foster and encourage curiosity and spontaneity not only in children but also yourself!
  10. Most importantly, nourish your own resilience and well-being so that you can show them how to live and love life.

How to name a child…

Now that all the fuss has died down after Kimye named their baby North West let’s take a moment to consider the current explosion of new and unusual names for babies. Just the other day I was introduced to 2 month old Jaloosie Batman and as my son said later “thank God AnglePark Piano is still available”!  (I say thank God he remains childless).

I am not saying that previous generations were not similarly innovative.   Who could forget Zowie Bowie and Moon Unit Zappa.  And my friend Louise claims an unmarried great aunt called Lorna Warner.

I wonder how the children manage their unusual names.  Do they have to constantly repeat them in introductions, do they have to endlessly correct spelling and pronunciation.

I had my kids in country NSW and we lived very close to an Ashram where we met lots of families.  I recall two children particularly because they were called Whizzee and Leafy Glade and were great friends with my own children.  The kids would play a game that involved cubbies made out of blankets over tables – an imaginary world where you could be anything or anyone you wanted to be.  I will always remember that Whizzee and Leafy Glade called themselves Colin and Philip respectively – at least when they were playing the game.

My mum’s advice when choosing a child’s name was “pick whatever you want –  and then shout it from the backdoor about a million times  –  if it still sounds good it was the right choice”.  I have tended to use James Thurber’s advice and keep it short and simple – although he was writing about naming dogs.  How did you choose your child’s name and have you heard some new ones?

Shaking Stress Away

I am always looking for new ways for parents to ease stress, particularly when I am working with mothers who have experienced Web_17trauma. I recently came across a set of exercises which identify and isolate the psoas muscle – a long muscle that runs from the lower back to the top of the leg.  It seems that when we are in a state of extreme stress or tension we contract the psoas.  Continued tension can lead to a variety of physical symptoms including sleep difficulties, IBS and back pain.

Trauma release exercises http://www.traumareleaseexercises.com.au/ trigger a self-controlled muscular trembling which ameliorates stress deep within the individual.  With continued practice you literally shake yourself better.  Has anyone tried this?

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