"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it."
- Maya Angela
There are so many quotes on resilience buzzing around! I really like the quote above. It really explains (i feel) what it truly means to be resilient. Basically it is saying that yes, we can be changed from experiences that happen to us, but we don't break or become smaller because of them.
How does this have anything to do with bullying and resilience? It is about making our kids continue to shine brightly, even when someone has tried to extinguish their light.
Resilience seems like a buzz word now-a-days doesn't it? And in reality, we can all learn to be a little more resilient.
But resilience and bullying? How do these two things work together? How does being resilient and becoming more resilient, help kids that are being bullied?
Basically, resilience is not going to eradicate bullying. Actually, it is probably impossible to completely erase all forms of bullying.
But what it does do, is help to build our kids strength. Not physical, muscle strength. Their inner strength, their emotional strength. It is about giving our kids the tools to see through the rain and realise that there will be sunshine at the other end.
It is definitely not a "one size fits all", but there are many things that we can do as parents to help build our children's resilience.
#1 Listen to them.
This one might seem strange to put into building resilience but LISTEN TO THEM. If your child comes to you to talk about something, make sure you listen.
Make them feel heard.
Help them to solve the issues they are experiencing.
When we feel like we are being listened to, our reaction to adverse events can be more positive, then when a child feels they are not being listened to.
#2 Introduce mindfulness practices to your home life.
I love this one.
Have you read about my posts on the "Big Life Journal?" This fits into building our positives as well.
So what is mindfulness? What can it include?
Mindfulness is being aware of how our words impact others. It is being aware of how we feel when we are faced with difficult situations. It is learning to have time away from things so that we are more aware of our actions, feelings and thoughts.
But how can I do this?
Have you seen mindful colouring in?
Perhaps you can try silent time with your child where they can feel their emotions and what has caused these.
You can then turn this into a discussion- what am I feeling? What caused this feeling? What am I going to do about it?
You can do this with kids meditation even- headspace has some great little meditations for kids.
You can also do this with Yoga! It doesn't have to be a full class of poses and movement, just a few small things that kids can take ownership of.
#3 Promote problem solving.
Bullying is a problem. It causes a problem. It is important that you help your child to solve the problems they may be presented with. Help them to creatively solve problems and think "outside the box"!
To help them to come up with solutions to their problems, you empower your children in knowing that there is something they can do about it.
Which is super important when we are faced with bullying, because we often feel powerless.
Do family mind maps, write the problems out, help them to discover that they have the power to change the impact of the bullying.
Who can they turn to? Where can they seek help? What things can they do?
#4 Help them face the future.
This is a big one. We are often so focused on what has happened to us in the past and what is happening to us right now, that we fail to see the bright future that is just ahead of us!
One way to do this is to promote personal goals to your children. What would they like to accomplish by the end of the month? Year? 5 years? Tomorrow?
Helping them realise that there is a future that isn't jaded with bullying is so important. Realising how far they have come is just as important! We always have the option to make tomorrow a better day than today!
#5 Lead by example.
Have you ever caught yourself being critical about others? Did you say it out loud? When we model behaviours to our children, they think it is OK to partake in them. Even saying something mean to someone.
Build your children up. Let them know of a problem you are facing. How are you dealing with it?
Were you bullied? What did you do? Did you ignore it? Did you face them?
Letting our kids know about our own lives as well can really help them to see solutions to the problem amongst all the hurt and chaos.
#6 Make your child feel accepted and encouraged at home.
Do you lift your children up?
Do you encourage everything they want to embark on at home?
Do you accept them exactly as they are?
We can build resilience by providing a safe, secure, accepting and encouraging environment in our own homes as well.
#7 Help your child build the positives from the negatives.
Is your child only seeing the negative? Help them to turn all the negatives into positives.
Child: Veronica was really horrible today, she told me that I was so stupid because I couldn't understand what they were doing in Maths.
That's pretty mean right?!
Positive: It's OK to struggle with Maths. I did! But do you know what? She isn't as talented at dancing then you are!
You can call it the negative flip! Encourage your kids to "do the flip!"
#8 Practice feeling management.
Do you ignore your feelings? Does your child struggling to identify their feeling and the impact these have?
There are so many resources available to help kids to manage their feelings. To help them identify how they feel (even just getting them to draw a picture) and to voice how that feeling is making them feeling.
Acknowledgement of emotion is the first step in managing our feelings, especially because they often come out in anger, tears and frustration when we aren't dealing directly with how we feel.
Beyond Blue has a great resource for parents on managing emotions.
#9 Teach your child to question their inner, critical voice.
This is another one that we can all do more of!
Teaching our children to question their inner critical voice can make massive changes in their mindset. Acknowledging that our inner voice is telling us something is the first step, teaching them to do the flip on the inner voice is the next.
Inner voice: You are dumb. You can't do anything.
Positive flip: Well that isn't true. I can do many things. I just struggle to remember my time tables.
Our personal inner voice is horrible to all of us! Teaching kids the inner flip can create a big change in confidence, well being and mind set!
#10 Address the problem head on.
Don't ignore the issue. Ignoring the bullying and encouraging our children to ignore it, is teaching them to "sweep it under the carpet". If we ignore it, it will go away. This is NOT TRUE. Not in the slightest. Sure, if you ignore an issue, you may be able to quieten it for a little while......but next time it appear it will be BIGGER. And UGLIER and also create more damage.
Teach your children to face the problem. Teach them to speak up. Teach them to tell someone.
If your child feels like they can't, then you need to contact the school on their behalf and let them know what is happening so that it can be dealt with.
If it is ignore, particularly with bullying, the bullies will think they can get away with it and they will do it again. It might not be tomorrow, and it may not be your child in the firing line again..... but they will do it again. Until we face the problem.
Do you have things that you use at home to build up your child's resilience? Share them with our community!
Who is Alysha Griffiths?
Alysha is the owner of Breakaway Tuition in Mittagong. With over 10 years of classroom experience, Alysha's passion lies in helping students to become empowered in their abilities and believe in themselves. She has a passion for raising awareness of empowerment, the impact of bullying and self-belief in her students and community.