They are all words for Resilience.
Resilience is more than the buzzword of the year. It is what gives us “the courage to go after our dreams, despite the very real risk that we’ll fail in some way or other.”
Isn’t that what we want for our kids? To go after their dreams and their passions and achieve them? Ever since I read Carol Dweck’s now-famous book Mindset : The New Psychology of Success I have been looking for ways to teach my kids this kind of resilience.
We go on hikes and do brain-teaser puzzles. We have even tried a ropes course in our quest to build resilience within them. It was in the midst of walking my oldest son through an algebra problem that I realized that resilience isn’t just a mindset, it’s a habit.
Resilience should be as much a habit as brushing your teeth in the morning or having a snack after school.
It’s something that we should be building into our everyday lives in such a way it becomes an unconscious choice. We simply don’t consider giving up when we don’t get that math problem right the first time. Trying again is our habit.
My boys are good at showing resilience in big moments or for specific projects. For example, my oldest son wanted to experiment with parallel circuits for a science project. He had all kinds of issues with the connections between the wires. The tape would slip or the wires wouldn’t be making good contact with the battery or he attached the wire incorrectly.
There were definitely moments of extreme frustration. He lost his temper several times and had to walk away from his project a few times. But he always came back and tried it all again.
In his everyday life he doesn’t seem to have that kind of resilience as his default. We recently got new kittens. I asked him to open the can of food for them and that’s when the trouble hit. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to open a can of cat food, but that flip-top lid can be difficult to open. When he was unable to get the can open he just gave up!
He didn’t even ask for help! He just stopped trying completely and left the can on the counter for me to find. The resilience to keep trying at the lid was not a part of his default setting.
So how do we make it a real habit? How can we teach them everyday resilience?