These next 5 strategies to build resilience and a strong work ethic in our children are quite a bit more challenging because they require you to evaluate your own actions!
When I started homeschooling my 4 young children, I was often asked, “What is the hardest thing about homeschooling?” Everyone expected me to say things like, organization, no socialization, teaching my own children…
No. The toughest part of homeschooling was looking myself in the mirror and realizing I had many wrong preconceived notions about education. I also realized the personal growth I needed.
I promise you, if you focus on these next 5 strategies, even one at a time, not only will your kids build resilience and a strong work ethic, but your relationship with your kids will thrive!
1. Reflect on Your Own Resilience and What You Are Demonstrating
Whether we like it or not, our kids will do what we DO, not what we say! This is one of the most important leadership/parenting truths we can internalize. Your kids know that you love them, but if you are ‘walking the talk’ then your kids will come to respect you more as they become teens and adults.
When you have a tough day, or don't handle something well, talk to your kids about it:
Why you reacted the way you did
Whether or not that was a good way to handle it and WHY
How you could have handled it better
Having these open and honest discussions with your children, age appropriate of course, will also build trust and strengthen your relationship. I know when I am accountable for my behavior, I grow in my leadership, which leads to stronger relationships and becoming a better parent.
2. Let Them See YOU 'Fail'
There are 2 ways that you can encourage your kids when it comes to your own failures:
Talk to them about a past ‘failure’ and how you handled it well – or not; and
Handle a failure well in front of them. This is the more difficult situation, and also the most powerful.
How you handle your own mistakes will have a lot to do with how they will handle theirs! Intentionally growing in your own leadership is one of the best investments you can make for your family.
3. Find Ways to Let Your Kids Fail
I know that sounds harsh, and it is very tough to do as a parent, but it is a huge component in building resilience. If you continually ‘bail them out’ of tough situations, they will not build confidence in their ability to ‘fail forward’ and learn from their choices.
Whether it is a “small” thing, or a major train wreck of an issue, staying calm and solving the problem in the moment, without the lectures, “I told you so’s”, and judgements, is KEY.
Once the “crisis” has passed, and everyone has regrouped, then it is good to evaluate how different decisions would have had a different outcome. Remember, we have ALL made some horrible choices in our own lives. Help your children learn through which “Lens” they should view their mistakes: Either critical and unforgiving or with Grace, Understanding, and Learning.
I cannot stress enough how important this is, coupled with the previous strategy, not only for building resilience, but also as a vital life skill. This will prepare them for success in whatever they are called to do in life.
You are giving them the opportunity to ‘fail’ in a controlled environment and if they learn that we ALL fail, and that it is often a necessary step in success, they will be more willing to get up and try again!
4. Give Them Choices
It is important that your kids know they have control over their lives to some extent. By giving them choices, you are allowing them to learn HOW to make good choices, and why a choice was good or bad. You are also helping them to develop their own preferences, and that is good.
You can do this at a very young age: “Would you rather go to bed at 7 and read for a bit, or would you like to go to bed at 7:30 and not read?”
“Would you rather eat your broccoli or your meat first?”
Allowing them to have control over certain aspects of their life, when so much is out of their control, is also vitally important for their psychological development. As they mature, it is important to help our children question things appropriately, make choices, and understand the consequences of those choices. This is a form of having “control” over their lives and it develops Critical Thinking, Leadership, and Wisdom. A few of my other passions!
5. Work Alongside Them a Bunch
We often “direct” or “tell” our kids to go do something and don’t take the time needed to set them up for success.
Having 4 kids within 4.5 years, this was often difficult for me! I would ask my oldest to do something I thought he “should” know how to do, and he would cheerfully be off to do what was asked. Of course, it was usually done as any 4-year-old would do it, and I was good with that!
However, I realized that I was doing him a disservice by not taking the time to come alongside of him to teach him how to do the task properly. The cool thing was, he loved working alongside me, and was eager to “get it right.” It was a joy to patiently guide my children while we laughed and sang! Of course, when Mama was stressed, this tended to go right out the window!
If you take the opportunity to guide and teach the concepts of working hard, learning from mistakes, finding satisfaction (and even joy) in a job well done, persistence, and problem solving, then you will build Confidence, Connection, and Competence in your kids.
Most importantly, you can teach them how to make work fun!
Having implemented these strategies, albeit poorly sometimes, throughout our homeschooling journey and in my life over the last 17 years; I can tell you that my kids are resilient, hardworking, and compassionate toward themselves and others. Now, I would like to say that perfectionism is no longer an issue for any of us, but then I’d be lying!
Be sure to stay tuned for Part III and the final 5 Strategies to Building Resilient Kids!