“Building resilience in children is not about making them tough. Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties and manage how you feel.”
One of my favorite YogaCalm® lessons to teach to young people and their families is about Strength. When we think about being strong we often first think about physical strength, and sometimes about powering through tough times with a stiff upper lip or minimizing and moving on. As parents we can do this out of fear and think we need to protect our children by teaching them to be “tough” so that they don’t get hurt. The reality is they will get hurt and by teaching them all the types of strength they will learn to be “tough” in a healthy way and learn to not fear challenging situations. They will face them head on and evolve and grow stronger through their life experiences. And yes, sometimes we do have to power through and yet their is such opportunity in growing your child’s resilience by teaching them how to tap into not just their physical, but also their mental and emotional strength.
3 Types of Strength to Practice and How:
Physical Strength - Muscle Power - Movement and Healthy Eating
Moving (playing tag, going on a walk or hike, swimming, yoga, biking, sports) together as a family when your children are young builds life long habits. Help your child feel strong, empowered and fueled by how they move and what they eat. Be aware of your relationship with food and your body as parent in front of your child, your children are watching and hearing everything.
Mental Strength - Brain Power - Healthy Self-Talk (How we think about ourselves) and Decision Making in challenging, stressful situations
Challenge yours and your child's negative self talk around mistakes, fears, and worries. Language is powerful. "I made a mistake" (guilt based self talk) is easier to work with and grow from then "I am a mistake" (shame based self talk). Help your child turn mistakes into challenging growing and learning opportunities.
YogaCalm® uses the following positive self talk statements. "I am Strong" "I am in Control" "I Can Do It" "I Can Be Responsible" I love to pair these statements with strong poses such warrior poses.
Create a encouragement jar filled with positive self statements to move through difficult times or pick a family mantra or motto to move through these times together.
Decision making - Use your Strong Voice as a guide! Finding our strong voice is the same as finding our wisdom (our inner guide). To tap into that voice and wisdom we often have to slow down and reflect on what's most important to us and make a decision that matches our values.
Strong Voice Activity from YogaCalm® . After grounding and finding calm and stillness with your child via breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or a body scan ask them the following questions. Then have them write the answers down to create a visual reminder of their strong voice.
Can you find the strong voice inside of you?
Where do you feel the strong voice in your body?
Is the voice high or low?
Is the voice loud or soft?
Does the voice make you think of someone?
What does the voice say?
What can you do to find your strong voice when you are angry or afraid?
When do you need your strong voice?
Draw a picture of yourself feeling strong.
Emotional Strength - Heart Power - Ability to feel, identify, and express feelings without harming oneself or others
Practice is the best way to work with identifying and naming feelings. Feelings aren't right or wrong, good or bad, they are comfortable and uncomfortable sensations in our body and they give us messages about what we need. Once we regulate our emotions we can dig deeper into the need. Am I feeling sad because I miss spending time with a friend or feel left out. Am I feeling angry because I didn't get something that I wanted. Once we identify the emotion and the need (connection, competency, control, love to name a few) we can then move into problem solving or soothing with our child.
Check out Dan Siegels work around resilience! I often create "Grow Your Green Zone" boxes with children in my private practice to encourage them to take healthy risks and increase their tolerance for discomfort (stress, anxiety) as well as work through and regulate the big emotions. We put in "Be Brave" challenges as well as various emotion regulation tools around breathing, self-talk, and movement.
Favorite Picture Books on the topic:
Brave by Stacy McAnulty
I Can Handle It (Mindful Mantras) by Laurie Wright
I Can Do Hard Things:Mindful Affirmations for Kids by Gabi Garcia
May your find the courage to tap into all your strengths; physical, mental, and emotional.
Yours in Mindful Movement and Good Health,