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Resilience and our little ones. Thursday February 11, 2016

Why did I never get a decent part in the school play?...

I was rubbish at games, always lost the race...

My best friend chose to sit next to someone else...

The setbacks of childhood might now seem trivial, but if we cast our minds back, we can probably all remember the very real hurt caused by these early experiences when things didn't go the way we wanted them to.

As a parent, my natural instinct is to protect my little one - from pain, from adversity, from anything that might hurt him. I want his life to be as carefree and untroubled as possible. He has a lifetime of adult worries to come, so why shouldn't I shield him for as long as I can?

But then I remind myself that these (small?) obstacles in childhood serve an important purpose. When we learn how to cope when things don't go our way in our early years, we are building the foundation for our coping skills as an adult.

If we swoop in and fix every mistake or problem in our children's lives, how else can they develop the resilience and the skills to cope with adult problems?

Someone broke my heart...

I lost my job...

My mum died...

I don't know if you are aware, but in the UK this is Children's Mental Health Week. And amidst our wonderful, thoughtful and supportive community here at Moodscope I'd encourage us to use this week as an opportunity to think about our own resilience and how we nurture it, as well as that of children (whether our own, our nieces, nephews, grand or godchildren or those in our daily lives). We must help them to grow up to be the well-rounded, thriving adults of tomorrow.

We can't protect children from life, or change the difficult circumstances they sometimes live in, but we can help them cope with it, to deal with adversity, to learn from the knocks and challenges - however small or big - so they don't become overwhelmed. Instead of 'getting stuck' we can help them to 'bounce forward'...

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Anonymous Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 7:00am

Thank you Catherine for your insight. I am guilty of the same helicopter parenting. How much better it is to build resilience in young children in order to help them face life's ups and downs with confidence.

Hopeful One Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 8:28am

Hi Catherine - thank you for drawing my attention to The Children Health Week. I think that children are actually quite resilient . I would try and show them that every event in their lives has two interpretations . A positive one and a negative one. I would encourage them go look for huge positive In your examples I notice that the interpretations were negative .

Here is a wry laugh at a child's logic.

Teacher: If I give you two rabbits and two rabbits and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got?
Paddy: Seven!
Teacher: No, listen carefully again. If I give you two rabbits and two rabbits and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got?
Paddy: Seven!
Teacher: Let's try this another way. If I give you two apples and two apples and another two apples, how many apples have you got?
Paddy: Six.
Teacher: Good. Now if I give you two rabbits and two rabbits and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got?
Paddy: Seven!
Teacher: How on earth do you work out that three lots of two rabbits is seven?
Paddy: Cos I already got one rabbit at home!

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:18am

Tee hee HO!

Mary Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:38am

Love this one!

Anonymous Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:15am

Hello Catherine. Lovely blog. It is hard bringing up children. It always has been, is now and always will be. I have always hung onto the fact that I loved, love and will always love my two children so despite being deficient as a mother in so many ways (in my opinion and I suspect most parents feel the same about their parenting), they know they are loved.
We read that childrens' mental health is so fragile these days, with bullying on the internet and body image being so important for both boys and girls and other worries affecting them, you are right to remind us of this. I always smile at young lads and girls when I'm riding my bike or out on the streets; they are usually walking along on their own with headphones stuck in their ears, probably quite happy but you never know. Smiling, kindness and love are easy to give, Understanding is more difficult. As adults I doubt if we can truly get into their minds and why should we, but an overall approach of acceptance goes a long way. Jul x

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:24am

Hiya Catherine,
Having worked with teeny tiny tots and then primary school children in the past, as well as dragging up my own daughter (!) I have mostly seen that all children want is love, acceptance for who they are and more love...with hugs and cuddles thrown in...but even as far back as just ten years ago, hugs for children who aren't your own was, frowned upon. (We were allowed a one-arm hug, just so we weren't seen to be doing right anything inappropriate!)
I do hope many of us can show children that when things do go wrong, and through life we do get knocked down...but we can all get up again, no matter how long it takes.
Biggest Bear hugs to share x x x

Mary Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:41am

Yes - as Bear says, lots of love and hugs and cuddles and time. Words of praise too. My eldest daughter often comments on how much more confident she is than most of her friends, even though she feels inadequate inside. She knows everyone feels inadequate inside because we share with her. She knows you can be strong even when you're shaking inside. Children learn by example - but setting a good example does not mean trying to be perfect, it's showing that love blooms best in imprefection (now there's a blog title - right there!)

readerwriter Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:18pm

I am here because of a lack of cuddles and praise as a child. Building my own internal mother to soothe and reassure me when I'm overwhelmed. Sometimes I can't bear physical affection though I crave it. That's a tricky one to explain.

Norman Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:53am


as I've said before, I used to think my son never listened, now I sit in amazement as he passes on my words of "wisdom" to his friends.

For anyone who still has small children, I can inform you that the first eighteen years are the worst: after that you can get a Court Order!

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 12:08pm

That's right Norman, get a court order on them before they get one for you!! Hoping it's a 'dry' day fir you again today x

Anonymous Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 2:09pm

Hello Catherine, Its great to read these positive stories on resilience and teaching our children how to bounce back and not get overwhelmed.
At the moment, I don't feel 'qualified' to offer these great life skills to my children. I can demonstrate survival, since I myself am overwhelmed, and have hardly bounced in 15 years.
It's one of my great fears, (and failings) that they might get knocked down so many times (like me) that eventually they lose strength, reason, and self belief needed to carry on. If I could teach myself and succeed, then I could show them (from personal experience).
How to teach such bounce, resilience and self esteem - I would never wish this sense of desolation, inadequacy and loneliness on anyone, and so do anything and everything to strengthen my children so they can thrive in this painful world.
Doing life has become an emotional struggle every day, yet I see others just bumbling through life, incapable of understanding how even the simplest daily chores can take a days energy to achieve when all hope seems lost.
Yes, it can be said that I achieve remarkable things, and there is strength and resilience in that, but I am not a representative of how to cope when overwhelmed.
I am surviving,
I want my children to thrive. I want my children to have a healthy bouncy, cheerful kind of recovery, less emotionally affected and always, always retain their belief in themselves and self respect.

The Gardener Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 6:39pm

All our kids swear they can remember nothing of their childhood. Then people, places, photos and they remember all right. Ours did not really have problems till teenagers - then, like Norman, Court Order or pack their cases for them. Ours had best friends, but any 'break-up' was never so bad in a big family. Occasionally they actually admit their childhood was 'good'. Huge gardens, farms to picnic on, friends always welcome - and they were encouraged to participate - mending the rooves at 13 (illegal now, I reckon - real Dickens-like) doing the VAT and paying the cheques on Saturday for pocket money. All but one drove parents and teachers mad in their later schooling years. The last adopted one (often mentioned) had a golden upbringing - very pretty, petted by everybody, excellent education - extremely competent in whatever she did - not speaking to us - always a chip on shoulder about the adoption and the most intolerant person imaginable. another, one of our natural sons, has had acute problems with depression and alcoholism - how I've suffered for that boy - he also is intolerant and cannot hold a relationship for long. A grand-daughter (not a 'blood' one) gave all sorts of trouble - and, suddenly, showed a marvellous talent for flower arranging - she sends me pix from her phone - phenomenal - a long while I wrote a blog on 'job satisfaction' got a bit of stick. But I still hold there are latent talents in everybody - somehow or other they need encouraging to realise those talents, however minor. So, we bring up our children to have confidence in themselves and also that there are rocks ahead. Our g-g-grandaughter had her first shock last year - Mr TG terribly ill and carted off in an ambulance - having sorted him I had an hour and a half with the girl (nearly thirteen) on how one has to meet tragedies in our lives sooner or later. Mr TG awful tonight, usual rebounds on you lot as I write half a book as a post.

Frankie Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 11:06pm

Hello dear Gardener; thinking of you as ever - continue to sound off to us whenever .... we are here ... Frankie xxx

Rachel Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 9:46pm

Sadly I don't have children although I always wanted a family.

Frankie Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 11:04pm

Hello Rachel; I feel your sadness; can you find an alternative family? someone who cares about you and for whom you care? Hugs - Frankie

Frankie Thu, Feb 11th 2016 @ 11:08pm

Hello Catherine; love this! "We can't protect children from life, or change the difficult circumstances they sometimes live in, but we can help them cope with it, to deal with adversity" ... so wise - thank-you! Frankie

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