Last week our family was posed with an emotional parenting challenge – how do you support resilience in children while supporting it in yourself too?
It was supposed to be the most epic birthday ever.
A 6 year old’s dream — a girl’s week in Disney World, dining with princesses, staying up late, and eating Mickey waffles with Stitch for breakfast.
It was all smiles, and fun, and giggles on the way to the airport.
Getting through security was a breeze.
The flight was on time.
As we patiently waited in the crowded terminal to board I received the call that would change everything.
My father in law had unexpectedly passed away that afternoon.
Shocked — the room was spinning, my heart was hurting, and my mind was racing.
How would I explain to my kiddo why we had to cancel our vacation right then and there in the airport, how would I break the news that her granddad wouldn’t be waiting for her at home, how would I teach our happy go lucky joyful little girl how to grieve?
The best way I knew how.
The way I would show her how to grieve was by showing her how to LIVE.
Connecting back to our core values and modeling what it means to elevate them when we need them most.
Demonstrating our value of FAMILY by immediately canceling our trip and going home to be with the people who needed us most in that moment.
Showing her our value in personal IDENTITY by sharing that we aren’t afraid of big scary emotions.
Modeling our value of CREATIVITY by allowing her heart a place to paint, draw, and honor her feelings.
We are resilient when we can take our challenges and continue living in spite of them. That doesn’t mean we ignore the hurt. Or that we mask the pain and pretend we’re ok.
So many of us tiptoe around our struggles, whether they stem from the loss of a loved one or from something else like depression, anxiety, loneliness, or any big life change. We put our dreams and our hearts and our fulfillment and our life on hold because we’re waiting. Waiting for a shift, for a change, for things to settle down.
But so often that doesn’t happen.
Grief forces us to slow down and gifts us the ultimate invitation back to SELF.
Losing a loved one reminds us that nothing is permanent, nothing is guaranteed and life is meant to be experienced.
Resilience isn’t about being strong.
It’s about being super gentle and open and plugged in to your needs and desires.
Resilience is about experiencing LIFE.
These are 5 ways you can support resilience in your children (and yourself) for all of life’s challenges — big and small, so you can get back to LIVING again.
1) Support resilience in children by….spreading love
Don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them. Not just at the usual times, at totally random times too. Tell your kids, your spouse, your parents, your friends. Pick up the phone and unexpectedly call someone special, give extra hugs at bedtime, hold hands with your partner next time you’re out running errands, pay it forward next time you go through the fast food drive thru. To love is to live fully.
2) Support resilience in children by….getting honest
With those around you, but most importantly with yourself. Dive deep and explore who you are, what you need, what you desire, where you feel most alive, how you want to spend your time. Encourage your kids to do the same. Get honest with your emotions and allow them to be felt fully. Go watch Disney’s ‘Inside Out’ with your kiddos to teach them how to honor their emotions too.
3) Support resilience in children by….staying open
Remain flexible and be willing to face the unexpected (both the good and bad). Take to heart how life often doesn’t unfold according to your grand plan. It’s perfectly ok (and important) to have goals and dreams for what you’d like to learn, or who you’d like to become (yes even as an adult!) but know that the way that path unfolds usually won’t be the way you expect it to.
4) Support resilience in children by….exploring creativity
There’s no better time to tap into a creative hobby than when we’re facing an emotional challenge or struggle. Sometimes we don’t have the language to describe our emotions, but when we create – whether it be with markers, or paints, or fabric, or a camera – we give our space to internally process and seek the right outlet and expression of our feelings.
5) Support resilience in children by….being present.
When facing grief, loss, challenge, or struggle it’s easy to get stuck in our heads and lose track of time. By recognizing where this is happening you can more quickly get unstuck and plug back into being present and moving forward. I’ve got a new free class called Recapture Time that will help you get present, explore creativity, be resilient, and LIVE life more fully. Click the image below to learn more.
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