Written by: Robyn Hochglaube, Director Emeritus
Resilience has come to the forefront of our vocabulary since the start of the pandemic. Another word for resilience is the term GRIT. It is the courage and resolve to pursue through challenge and discomfort. We refer to it at Adventure Valley when we are in the early stages of summer planning. Reviewing our programming and staff training plans to ensure opportunities that offer challenges and opportunities for growth.
We believe it’s important to explore being uncomfortable and, as parents, learn to acknowledge and be okay with that discomfort when our kids are feeling anxious, nervous, or afraid. Easier said than done, I know, I’ve been there, and sometimes find myself back there still. Being uncomfortable as parents is a muscle that needs to be flexed to grow. It’s a process.
There are two types of GRIT: physical grit and emotional grit. And while both are important, at camp we focus on emotional grit. As children develop, nurturing their emotional grit is a key factor in how they will adapt as they continue to experience life into adulthood. What we model and teach our children today, when it comes to handling discomfort, becomes hard-coded into their emotional intelligence.
We recognize that for parents, allowing our children to feel emotional discomfort is the harder one to manage. When a kid teases or says something mean to our child and hurts their feelings, we get defensive, we feel hurt ourselves. Let’s be honest, we almost take it personally! We want to alleviate our child’s discomfort and we want to do it NOW!
But, as I’ve learned over my two decades at camp and raising my own three kids, the “saving” of our child never turns out to be as helpful as we intended. In fact, when we as parents swoop in to save the day, rather than allowing our kids to sit with the discomfort they are experiencing, we are teaching them that their parents don’t think they can handle discomfort, and in turn their self confidence drops a rung and now on top of being miserable, they also feel incompetent.
What can we do to build our children’s resilience!?
- Teach them to tolerate discomfort. We must learn to coach our children to tolerate their discomfort. If we help them figure out coping strategies, they develop the skill set and get better at it each time they put that tool into practise (and we all know, life is going to force us to take that tool out of our toolbox, many many many times!
- Coach them in how to approach the situation. When we put on our coaches hat, different from our parenting hat, we can provide objective ideas and perspectives on a situation. We can better discuss the issue at hand, removing the personal attachment to the outcome, and coach our child on how they feel best approaching the challenge. As coaches we can offer tactics, but ultimately our child has to execute. And this is where the real learning happens!
- Support them by listening and sharing your own stories of GRIT. It is always helpful to hear how others handled a situation and what the outcome was for them. When we can tap into other people’s experiences, we can pull from how they handled something, the outcome and the learnings and make better informed decisions. Support them by sharing that you get it, you’ve been there, you’re still here!!
- Tell them you are proud of them. Such simple words, and so powerful. And you should be! When your child can stand up to a mean child at school, or having an epic loss on the sports courts and fields, and they feel secure in doing so, you’ve got a child with a sound foundation in resilience!
Robyn is available to all Adventure Valley community members for life and personal coaching please reach out to robyn (at) vervconsulting (dot) com