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Episode 7724th November 2022 • How Not to Screw Up Your Kids • Dr Maryhan
00:00:00 00:32:18

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Resilience is all about our children’s ability to bounce back from setbacks and it is very closely related to confidence and self-esteem. Resilience isn’t innate, it’s learnt and as their greatest teachers you can use my simple strategies to start developing your child’s resilience as well as asking yourself this simple question - “how am I modelling resilience??” 


Here are the highlights: 

(01:36) Our children are like computer programs 

(04:12) Framing the situation 

(10:45) The importance of modelling good goal-setting 

(15:34) Promote problem solving 

(19:32) Encourage risk-taking 

(22:54) Practicing daily gratitude 

(26:42) Developing good friendships 

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To access the free resources mentioned in this episode visit  

To purchase your ticket for my next online talk visit  'Tantrums & Meltdowns' on Thursday 23rd February 2023

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Hello, and welcome to the How Not To Screw Up Your Kid's Podcast. So call yourself a cup, find a comfy seat, and enjoy the conversation. This is episode 77 and today's episode, they're watching you. It's all about how children learn to be resilient. Let's start with the inevitable question about the nature nurture debate.

Are some children simply born more resilient? Do we make them more resilient with our parenting, or is it the age old combination of the two? I'm gonna take a very definitive stance in this podcast episode because there is evidence to suggest we are born with some resilience as traits, and the rest is all about how we're parented.

Now. I can't help you decide if your child has been born more resilient, and even if they are life events and how they respond to them can almost beat the resilience out. So instead, I'm gonna take a stance and focus on how we can build resilience in our children from our parenting. And I'm gonna get take it one step further and argue that building resilience in our children is all about how we model resilience to them.

Now I shared a video in my weekly newsletter recently. It made slightly uncomfortable watching cause it showed so poignantly how our children are mini mes watching everything we do and copying us both the good and the not so good. You just think about all the little mannerisms that our children do and where they pick up on all these sorts of things.

So whilst I'm going to share six practices for raising resilient children, I am going to challenge you. In each and every strategy with this simple question, what are you doing to model this? Now, when I was studying for my degree, I took a module on computer programming. I know, hard to believe. Not really the computer programming kind of person, but I thought it would be a great idea.

And one of the constant comments made by my lecturer was garbage in, garbage out. Our children are, let's take the analogy, like computer programs in the process of being develop, They receive all their input from their environment, so we have to ask ourselves regularly, am I modeling resilience? Am I modeling confidence?

Am I modeling good self-esteem? Now, this isn't about beating you over the head and saying you're a rubbish parent. It's actually about empowering you and helping you see that you have all the power with you to help your child become better able to manage life setbacks. You don't have to be perfect a hundred percent of the time.

It's just being aware and more conscious of what you do a little. Each day. So what is resilience? For me, resilience is all about our children's ability to bounce back from setbacks, and it is very closely related to confidence and self-esteem. Resilient children are more successful not only academically, but also socially because their mindset sees setbacks as a natural part of life and.

If they're not picked for the team, they know they'll be a next time. If they do poorly in a test, they know they can do better in the next test. And if they fall out with a friend, they know they will eventually make up. And in the meantime, they have other friends that that they can play with. These children, these resilient children, experience the exact same setbacks, disappointments, and heartache as other children.

The difference is they just handle the stresses more confide. Because they approach life with an optimistic mindset, a resilient mindset. While some children seem to have resilience by the bucket load, other children really struggle. Why? So we're gonna talk about, I'm gonna share with you six strategies.

Six tips, and I'm going to challenge you each time to ask you, what are you doing to model this your. Okay, so let's start with framing the situation. A wise philosopher observed it is the meaning we attach to events that controls how they affect us rather than the events themselves. And I want you to keep this in mind, not only in this particular strategy, but throughout this particular.

Because this relates to the internal chatter. So let me just say that quote again because I think it's really important. So it is the meaning we attach to events that controls how they affect us rather than the events themselves. So when we talk about the, the meaning, it's, it's whether this is catastrophic.

I'm, I'm a failure, I can't do things. So it's how we contextualize how we frame what's happened to. And that particular situation, rather than the event itself. And I've talked about this in other podcasts before, confidence around this whole getting caught up in the why me? Why is this happening? Rather than this sort of almost this acceptance, okay, this has happened, what can I do about it?

And we're gonna talk a little bit more about problem solving later. So when we're talking about framing a situation, All about the internal chatter, which we've spoken about before, but some of you may be coming to this podcast for the very first time. This might be the first episode you are listening to.

So the internal chatter is, in essence the conversation that we have in our head all of the time. And our children are no different. We all have an internal conversation, and the one side we've got the, what I call the inner critic or the oga. Some books call it The Inner Bully, which I'm not a massive fan of, but in essence, that's the critical voice that says that we can't do something or that that person no longer likes us or that things are catastrophic, or that we we're a failure.

We're not good enough. We're not clever enough, we're not popular enough, we're not thin enough, we're not sociable enough, whatever that. So when we're trying to encourage our children to become more resilient, it's helping them become aware of that internal chatter. That's the first bit. They need to be aware of that.

And then they also need to be aware that just because they've thought something, a thought is not a truth, it's simply an observation. And that we can reframe that. We can look at it in another way. Now, if you have a child and you're listening to this, who is not particularly sistant, If you yourself struggle with bouncing back, if your internal dialogue is supremely critical, then the first steps.

Are really about just becoming aware that you are doing that. So being aware, oh, that's my internal chatter again, I'm going down that rabbit hole that says that I'm rubbish, that I'm not good enough. I'm going down that self-criticism. So the observation is the first bit. The next bit is once we've become regular observers of that, it's being able to note, what am I actually saying?

What is that internal chat? Getting it down on a piece of paper. Now, obviously, you're not gonna be able to do that for yourself or even for your child in the heat of the moment when they're having a, when they're struggling with something or they're finding it difficult to bounce back. But it's a reflective piece.

It's something that you can do afterwards. You know, I've noticed that. When you've fallen out with a friend, you find it really difficult to pick yourself up and go back in, or I've noticed that when it comes to schoolwork, if you've done particularly badly in a test or you feel you've done particularly badly in a test, you find it difficult to pick yourself up again and look at it in a different way.

So the first thing is that observation. Then it becomes about being able to notice and to to write down what is that internal chatter? What is that critical voice? What is that OGA saying in those particular situations, and why am I, why am I finding it difficult to pick myself up? Because it starts with that internal dialogue.

So in those moments, Where you are not in the midst of it. It's writing down what are the things that are coming up. Is it that I'm not good enough or I did badly in a test and therefore I'm rubbish? It's being aware of what that chatter is and then looking at reframing it so it's not about this, you know, the ogre and the critic are all negative and you know, don't be so negative.

Be more positive. I don't think that, I don't find that particularly helpful as an adult, and I don't think children find it helpful either. It's much more about how can we reframe it? The situation, the event is the situation and the event. Go back to that philosophers wise words. It's the meaning we attach to it.

And if the meaning that we attach to an event that hasn't quite gone to plan is that that's the end of our lives, that we're a failure, then that's how we view it. So can we, can we actually attach a different meaning? Can we look at it from a different viewpoint? That didn't go so well. That's attached to that specific on that day.

I didn't perform my best on that day. That child didn't want to play with me on that day. I felt too nervous to do something, but I have another opportunity. So it's about looking at the situation, the meaning that we attached to it, challenging that. With our children, challenging that with ourselves, and then looking at how we can reframe it.

How can I approach it differently next time? What can I do about changing that internal chatter? Can I tap into the voice of my best self, the version of my best self, my best friend? That champion, that cheerleader side, which is not the sort of, you are incredible, you can do anything, but is a pragmatic, how can we look at this situation differently?

Have we learnt something as a result of this setback, this failure that will help us next time? Have we, are we able to take that knowledge, that wisdom, and apply it in a. Similar situation, but do it differently. So framing the situation, it has to start with that. It has to start with the meaning that we attach to that event.

And to be honest with you, if you're only gonna focus in on one thing, and that isn't something that you are doing already, is focus on that. But remember that it has. To start with you, your children are watching you every single step of the way and every step that you are doing. So ask yourself, how are you framing situations?

How are you attaching meaning to events? And how might you then look at reframing those? So that's number one. So it's how we frame the situation. Number two is all about goal. So I'm gonna start with the same thing. What are you doing to demonstrate this, to model this to your children? Do you goal set? Do you talk about the goals that you're setting for yourself?

And these don't have to be huge career life choices. They can be very small things, goal set to go on a walk every day to read a chapter of a book every day, to, um, get out and exercise more, to eat more healthily, whatever it. I'm asking you, how often do you model that, and it may well be that you're listening to this and saying, Mary, had I set goals all of the time, then my question will be, how are you communicating that to your children?

And it's not, I'm communicating it to my children and I want you to start lecturing them. Oh, I've set goals and I want you to set. Goals and look at me setting goals. That isn't it. It's much more about how much do we talk to our children about the fact that we've set something up, that we are trying to do something and to talk about the whole, the good, the bad am ugly.

I've set a goal. I was gonna go to the gym. I'm not doing it. I've sat and reflected on why that might be happening, and actually I'm finding that I'm framing. In a way that I want to change because I've attached a negative meaning because I'm not going or because the last time I went I wasn't, I didn't feel as if I did as much as I would like to have done.

It's, let's have those conversations and be more open. So starts with us a we goal setting. If we are, how well are we communicating that? And when we're thinking about doing this, and when we're working through this with our children, it's about encouraging them to take something that matters to them. The whole process of setting a goal and working through a goal.

And being able to achieve that goal. It doesn't have to be on our agenda, because if it's something that our children value, a, they're going to be much more likely to do it. And B, the whole process of setting up goals, and I'll talk you through how to do it with with our children, is that the process of doing it means that that's a transferable skill to anything.

So being able to achieve a goal, whether it's, I don't know, being able to do a summeral on a tram. Or reach a certain level on a particular game that they're playing on their electronic devices. Okay. That might not be aspirational goals that we want them to have, but the fact that they're sort of.

Creating a goal, going through the process of trying to achieve that goal means that they build their resilience and that building resilience is transferable to other aspects of their life that maybe we want to see them be a bit more resilient and bounce back from setbacks, whether that's friendships, whether that's academic work, or taking on new challenges.

So what we want to do when we're looking at encouraging goal setting is we want them to help our children break a task down. Into smaller, more manageable steps because that's key to developing resilience is let's not set this huge goal and then not give them particular steps. We want to break it down because this way your child experiences small winds along the way alongside the inevitable setbacks.

Yet that they can see that there is a clear path to achieving the bigger goal. Now, I've talked about this particular resource before, but imagine a ladder with multiple rungs at the top of the ladder is the end goal, and each rung represents the smaller milestones they need to achieve along the way.

And what we want to do is we want to help our children create a list of these milestones and with some goals, there'll be multiple milestones. Others, there may only be a few. And we want to set them, help them make a list of these milestones and dis and talk to them about how they're going to achieve them.

And then celebrate each success along the way. Setbacks can be discussed and new rungs on the ladder can be added if necessary, or adjustments can be made. But it is about helping them see the big goal and then breaking it down so that they can celebrate and they can see their achievements and celebrate their wins, and understand that they will go up and down this ladder and that's normal and that's okay, but if that goal is something that they are, Really connected and committed to than you're much more likely to help them with that.

And it is about making sure that we model regular goal setting, practice ourselves with our own personal ambitions so our children learn. It's a normal, natural part of life. So the two that we've talked about so far are framing the situation. This idea is, it's the meaning we attach to the events that control how they affect us rather than the event themselves.

Encouraging goal setting is number two. The third is about promoting problem solving. Again, I'm gonna ask you the question, what are you doing to. Problem solving as an active way that you go about when you are confronted with a situation or a problem. So how do you go about modeling that? And so what we can do in terms of helping and supporting our children is when our child comes home with a problem.

Maybe they've had a fallout with a friend. Maybe they've suddenly realized that, that they've got a big test coming up, or they've got a big assignment that they've got to do is let's avoid rushing in with a solution. We want to promote problem solving, not I have a problem. Mom, dad, here's my problem.

Solve it for me. We want to encourage them. So instead, rather than jumping in with a solution, we're gonna coach them to find their own solutions. Now, if your child is used to you telling them what to do every time. You know, rather than working through their own problems, then it is going to be a little bit difficult.

Initially, I've talked before about the fact that I am quite often in a controlled enthusiasm. I've had to really work on this for me, and I don't always get it right. I've got much older children now who are adults, and I still have to work on this because I have a tendency to just want to fix it and tell them what the answer is.

It's probably something similar. I've experienced something similar myself, but we have to kind of keep practicing this. Our children don't learn resilience if they keep coming to us with a problem and we just give them the solution. So if your children are used to you giving them the solution, it's gonna take a little bit of while for you to practice, but also for them to develop that skill because they're used to coming to you with a problem and for you fixing it, it's key.

When it comes to problem solving that our children understand that there are no or right solutions, this isn't about I need to come up with the best solution, but instead it's about best guesses based on the available information at the time. So when they fall out with a friend, ask them what they might do about it the next day.

Encourage them to consider multiple solutions and to think through. The possible implications of each of those solutions. And then they can choose which one they want to put in place. They can choose which one they want to try first, and then they can feed back to you. Whatever happens, they've learn something valuable along the way cuz it's, there's no right or wrong answers.

It is just simply with the information that I've got. I've considered what my options are. I've considered what might happen if I've used these various different options, and I think weighing it all together, I'm gonna try this one first. And it's exactly the same when we are looking at how we modeling.

Problem solving skills. We d there is no right or wrong answer. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Afterwards we can say, oh, I should have known to do that. But we don't know at the time. And what we'd want to try and do, particularly around this sort of resilience is this bouncing back, is that, you know, the sooner we try something, the more likely we are to get an answer.

It's this kind of, it's this idea that they often talk about in business about failing fast and then moving on. There is no right and wrong. All we know is that with experie. We just become wiser because we've got a whole data bank on which to draw. Upon our previous experiences, so I found that in the past, this U usually works in this scenario, and this works in that if our children get debilitated, either by us always giving them the solution or them getting paralyzed with trying to find the perfect solution, they don't learn and they don't fail fast.

And failing fast is crucial. To building resilience. So we've got framing the situation, we've got encouraging goal setting, we've got promoting problem solving skills. The fourth one is about encouraging risk taking. So, Same question. God, you're probably getting really fed up with me now, but I'm gonna keep going, is how often do you model risk taking for yourself?

And we're not talking about like life threatening risks, but how often do you push yourself out of your comfort zone? And I hear this time and time again. I get so asked so many times with my parents, you know, how can I help my children? But they're not confident. They won't go and try new things. They don't, they feel uncomfortable about new situations or, or trying new things.

My, my first question is simple. What are you doing to model that? Do your children see you? Putting yourself in difficult situations, taking on risks, doing things that make you feel uncomfortable? And if they don't, Then what are you gonna start modeling for this? So that's the first thing. Children need to become used to taking a few risks along the way.

As these risks usually yield, they give us the most reward. Children feel incredible and risks are all relative to one child. A risk may well be putting their hand up in a class and getting the answer. To another child, it may well be walking to school on their own. It may be trying to make a new friendship.

It might be joining a new activity. It might be taking a different subject in, in, in school. It can be anything. It's all relative to the individual. So it doesn't, taking a risk doesn't imply risky behavior. It's just something outside your child's natural comfort zone. So if you've got a particularly shy child, this putting their hand up might be it, but the risk in the situation.

For example, with a child who puts their hand up is that they might get the answer wrong and with all the inevitable worries about what other children might say or what they might think when no one, when they see, for example, if we are working through that analogy of. You've got a child who, for them risk is putting their hand up and potentially getting the answer wrong.

When they see that no one laughs or thinks any less of than for trying, they've learnt it's safe to take those sorts of risks. You know, and when we talk about risk taking it, the risk of. The risk could be a real physical risk, but it can be a risk. And as so often is the case of why we don't push ourselves outta the com, our comfort zone is all around how we frame the situation and the internal chatter that we get caught up in.

So it's a, we want to encourage our children to take those small risks, not huge ones. And these sit quite often really well with the problem solving and our ladder is that what can I do each day as a parent to. That risk taking things that push me outta my comfort zone and how can I encourage my child to do the same whilst acknowledging that risk to me is going to be probably very different to risk for my child.

It's all how we. See them. Remember it's going back to that, the meaning we attach to the events rather than the events themselves. So we've got framing the situation, we've got encouraging goal setting, we've got promoting problem solving, we've got encouraging risk taking, and then it's about practicing.

So number five is about practicing daily gratitude. Now, I talk about this a lot and I would ask you, here we go again. What are you doing to model a? Practice of gratitude. So this is really key. It's about reflecting back on each day and identifying all of the positives rather than our natural tendency to continually replay and churn over what didn't go to plan.

So when your children talk to you about your day, or when you have a discussion at any point during the day about what's happened, do you tend to replay back the things that didn't go to plan? Or do you make a conscious and deliberate effort to reflect on the things that you are grateful for and to communicate that to your children?

Not in a lecturing. You should be grateful for this children, but much more. I'm so grateful for these things, you know? You know, I'm so grateful that I get to do a job that allows me to be home, to collect you from school. You might have had the most awful day, but it's. It's reframing that, and I did listen, I've been slightly in consumption mode and binge listening and binge reading to all sorts of things.

And there was one thing that has really sort of stuck with me is the difference between us, how we frame a task that we need to do. And quite often we have this sort of like, oh, I've got to do this. I need to do this. You know, I, I. Do the shopping. I need to cook dinner, or I need to have this meeting, or I need to have a difficult conversation and instead trying to reframe it from, in this perspective of I get.

To do this, I get to cook an evening meal for my children. I get to have a meeting where I can express my views and, okay. You might sort of be listening to this and thinking, oh, that's so cheesy, Maryanne. But actually when we frame, when we reframe things goes back to the very first point that we made.

It's how we attach meaning to a particular event. If we see it as a chore and we frame it as a chore, well of course it's gonna feel like a chore and it's gonna feel like a right royal pain. Proverbial. But actually if we try, we choose to frame things with a, I get to do this and it in, I just think it makes a massive difference.

So, When we're talking about a daily practice of gratitude, it's really thinking and reflecting back on that day. And research has shown that it is the process of writing down what we are grateful for, which is most effective. So simply verbalizing it isn't enough. The research shows that if it's gonna have a positive impact on our well-being, it comes from the writing rather than the simply sort of verbalizing it.

So we want to encourage ourselves. To have a daily practice of gratitude. And we also encourage our, we want to encourage our children to write down three things, which they're grateful for in a small notebook. And I find it works really well if they do it just before they go to bed, because that whole framing the, the day in that way and gratitude is another, just another way of asking them for three things that they're thankful.

They're not meant to be big things like getting a hundred percent in a test. They should be the little things like a teacher smiling at them, the sunshine on their way back, um, as they played football, a friend saying, thank you, so on. It's the little things that matter, these little things that make the biggest, the most profound impact on us.

So it is about encouraging a daily practice of g. So we've got framing the situation, encouraging goal setting, promoting problem solving, encouraging risk taking, practicing great daily gratitude. And then the last one is about developing good friendships. So my question to you is, how are you modeling this process around developing good friendships, nurturing friendships in, you know, seeing them as an integral part of who you are and prioritizing.

How are you modeling that? Are you doing that? So good. Friendships are a critical support system for us as parents, for us as adults, when we're facing life's inevitable challenges, and they're exactly the same for our children, they contribute. Friendships, co make, contribute a huge sense of belonging and knowledge that others are there for us when we need.

So how are we modeling that? How are we staying connected with our friends? How are we nurturing that and prioritizing that from a time perspective? And then it's about helping our children build and develop strong friendships. And that's how we can help them as parents. The obvious ways we can help them is by organizing play dates or encouraging our children to play with neighbors, children and children they meet at outside school activities.

There are, there are also a whole host of skills we can promote at school, which are key to good friendships. So it is not just the kind of the obvious bits that we do where we bring friend, bring our children. We expose our children to those social situations where they can build those friendships. But there are certain qualities and components and characteristics of a good friendship that we can promote at home that don't involve other people in terms of, you know, friends as such, you know, such as turn taking.

Empathy. You know, being able to see things from another perspective, negotiation, good listening skills, all of these sorts of things. So how are we modeling that and how are we encouraging and promoting that for our children, because that helps them with their resilience as well, because that's a huge part of their support structure moving forward.

So let's just recap on the six. So it's framing the situation, remembering that the meaning we attach to events is what controls how. How those events affect us rather than the events themselves. Encouraging goal setting, promoting problem solving skills, encouraging risk taking, practicing daily gratitude, developing good friendships and knowing.

That our children are always watching us. So it's that remembering what am I doing each day to help model this, to help promote that resilience when we look at those breakdown of those tasks. So my give this week is these top six strategies and a checklist, and there's gonna be a space at the bottom specifically for you to reflect on what you are going to do first and foremost, to model this before.

You start the process of supporting your child, it has to start with us because they're watching us. So it'll serve as a reminder and also this tool that you can practically use. So as usual, head over to my free resource library, dr where you'll find the link To download the resource, all you need to do is pop in your email address and you'll get instant access, not only to this week's resource, but all the other free resources across all my other podcast.

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