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. (

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 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?

5 things for formals

How to survive the year 12 formal

The Year 12 formal season looms and here are 5 tips from a parent who has survived the slippery slope of the formal environment three times!

  1.  What they wear will only be important for one night.  She will never wear the dress again even though you will discuss ways it can be shortened, lengthened, gathered, tucked, slashed, dyed or subtly or dramatically altered for cousin Stephanie’s wedding in November.  Budget for hair removal and attachment, spray tan, make-up, jewellery, shoes, flowers and transport.  And then take out another mortgage on the house or sell one of the younger children to pay for all this. Hire his suit – for about $99 he can get his choice of suit, shirt, tie, handkerchief, cummerbund, vest and even shoes.  Just make sure he has black socks and put your cash into a good haircut and a decent shave.
  2. Don’t argue about the white socks.  Pick your battles and decide what really matters.  I was recently reminded that it was his formal not my formal. Work to become a consultant in approaching the formal rather than an opponent.
  3. How you attend the formal is more important than who you attend with.  The majority will attend with a date.  However I know teens who have decided to take a friend or family member, groups who “hire a Hummer” for the evening and who dances with who can be very fluid on the evening and others who attend solo – meeting up with friends at the formal venue.  I think we need to remind them that the formal is about having fun and celebrating the moment.  Its about marking a milestone in their lives and its significance might only be apparent in hindsight.
  4. It’s all about the after party.  The formal itself is usually a “lock-in” affair with teachers providing supervision in an alcohol and other substances free environment.  It’s a bit boring really.  Put your parenting energies into managing where and how they will attend the pre formal jolly up and subsequent after party when supervision isn’t a given while access to party substances is.  Talk to your young person and plan practical strategies to minimise harm.  Talk to the parental hosts of the after party to decide if this is somewhere you want your kids to be and to confirm that they know about the party. Have a contingency plan ready if things go downhill.
  5. Parents need to have fun too.  Remember this is one of the final hands on parenting experiences you will have with your year 12 student.  Make it a positive memory.  All too soon they will be launching into life without you (and that $900 dress will be still rolled up in a ball in the back of her wardrobe).

Grandparents do it Tough

Finding out that you are going to be a grandparent can be the most wonderful news as you imagine days spent lavishing love and attention on grandchildren.

This dream however is often not the reality…..grandparenting can be a tough gig.

Providing childcare for working parents, providing permanent care for grandchildren, the effects of relationship breakdown in their adult children, combined with the fact that they may also be providing care for elderly parents….all while trying to hold down an job, are the biggest challenges facing today’s grandparents.

Sometimes grandparents, particularly grandmothers, who provide the majority of the care , can feel put upon , and struggle with wanting some time to themselves but also wanting to be there to support their family.

Issues around setting boundaries regarding expectations of adult children can emerge. In addition possible conflicts around parenting styles can occur, along with financial implications for grandparents whose careers take a back seat.

Feelings of guilt can occur if grandparents are not seen as always available, along with feeling isolated from peers, physical and mental issues can emerge.

On the other hand grandparents also report that they have found having care of grandchildren has enriched their lives. Grandparents enjoy the challenge of physically keeping up with their grandchildren, along with trying to keep abreast of all the technology grandchildren are familiar with.

It would appear then, that whilst being a grandparent today can bring many rewards as we are more involved with our children and grandchildren’s lives, this can at times however be a doubled edge sword, as grandparents endeavour to juggle their own lives to meet everyone’s demands.

Providing more support and information to grandparents about issues of interest or concern, along with providing more practical support such as services available in the community or parenting strategies is necessary.

As a result of this growing need for information around all aspects of grandparenting , Centacare has developed a program aimed at providing information for grandparents. Issues such as child development and impact on behaviour, discipline and grandchildren, setting boundaries and effective communication, technology and cyber safety, self-care and accessing community resources are all covered in this program.

This 3 hour program aims to provide grandparents with knowledge, information and support, to assist them in the valuable role they play in our community. To book into, or find out more about this course or any of the courses Centacare offers around parenting please contact Centacare on 08 82108200 or visit the Centacare website on

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