help your kids

Seven Ways to Help Your Kids Be Strong and Resilient – Part 2

John ThurmanBy John Thurman8 Minutes

In my last post, I provide you with the first four points concerning how to raise resilient kids. They are:

  1. Train your children to be “Treasure Hunters” not “Trash Collectors.” Teach them to build up others.
  2. Teach your kids to be optimistic and to realize they are created in God’s image and can make a difference in the world.
  3. Remind them about the importance of doing their best. When our kids achieve, they can help others along the way.
  4. Encourage and model that failure is never final. We should instill in our kids that failure is not a lack of achievement. Failure simply means that there was a lack of effort or a refusal to try.

Point # 5 – Integrity

Our children must learn that their lives will be less complex and their legacies more enduring if they live a life of integrity. As a follower of Christ, this is one reason that regular participation in a local church can be such an essential part of family life. In the context of these relationships, bonds are formed, and it is a place where others can positively influence our children. I am thinking about the people who have spoken into my and Angie’s life and the lives of our kids. They are people we connected with through church life.

Our children (and we) must live a life of integrity, which means we learn to make the right decisions and choices even when no one is looking and even when it might cost us something. When we train our children to live a life of integrity, we know when they look back, the reflection they see will be something they can enjoy endlessly. Children should be learning to recognize and avoid actions that will dishonor themselves, their friends, or their family.

Point # 6 – Responsibility

We must instruct our children to take full responsibility for their actions. They must learn from their efforts. For example, in sports and other competitive activities, as easy as it is to blame referees for bad calls when our kids’ actions result from poor choices or inappropriate behaviors, we do not need to bail them out. We need to let them taste the consequences of their actions.

All of us, including our children, must learn from our mistakes and failures. And our kids need to know that when they fail in terms of what they have or have not done, that failure is not who they are. The cartoon character Homer Simpson said, “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once and move on.”
You may be familiar with the Latin phrase carpe diem, which means making the most of this moment and giving little regard for the future. In other words, make a choice and move on.

As a young cadet at Georgia Military College in 1968, I quickly learned the phrase “No excuse, Sir!” The thinking was, when a Non-Commissioned officer or officer asked you about something you may have done wrong, you soon learned to accept responsibility for your choices instead of blaming anyone else. It certainly made life more manageable.

My friend Dr. Jack Allen says, “When you make a mess, own it, confess it, and do your best to clean it up.”
The path to a better life is accepting complete responsibility for your actions, making amends, and moving forward.

Point # 7 – Connection

Never underestimate the power of connection! Connectivity and social support are among the greatest ways to ensure your children have a rich, resilient, meaningful life.

A few years ago, I researched, prepared, and presented a webinar on stress management to nearly a thousand federal managers and learned the following surprising statistic: Coming out of a once-in-a-generation global pandemic, Americans appear more attuned than ever to the importance of friendship. However, despite renewed interest in friendship in popular culture and the news media, signs suggest that the role of friends in American social life is experiencing a pronounced decline. The May 2021 American Perspectives Survey finds that Americans report having fewer close friendships, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on friends for personal support.

I must admit, while my wife and I have always been connectors, my son is the consummate connector. He is an expert collaborator and friend and uses his connections to help others and even to build a great business. Likewise, my daughter and her husband Cory are excellent connectors and collaborators in their community.
We need to demonstrate that friendship and connectivity mean that we assist others in their times of need and expect nothing in return. Friendship means giving that which is difficult to give and doing so without resentment or regret.

Jesus taught this as the golden rule:

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
Jesus – Matthew 7:12 NLT

While this is not always an easy path, it requires seeing things from another’s perspective. For example, in teaching our children how to cultivate friendships, we must primarily teach them to treat others with respect and compassion.

For those of you who are Winnie the Pooh fans, there is one poignant phrase that Christopher Robin imparts to Winnie. “Promise me that you will always remember, you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

You might also remember the thought-provoking line from The Help when Aibileen, the maid, tells her young charge the iconic words, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

You and I must always remember that we are thought shapers in the lives of those we influence, so be mindful of that as you go about your day-to-day life.