My Parenting handbook

Parenting Hadnbook

Chapter 1

Chapter 8: Cultivating Resiliency

In this chapter you will gain valuable insights on how to raise a child that can overcome adversity, and develop grit and  resiliency. Topics include how to praise you child, fostering a growth mindset, and cultivating belonging and hope so your child can live a fulfilled life.

Children don’t need perfect parents; they need compassionate parents who are actively working on their own imperfections. When a child feels loved, they are more likely to learn from a challenging situation. This is the heart of resiliency. 

Take a minute to think about the one burning parenting question you have. For many parents, the question will be a variation of: “How do I help my child to be brave, to be strong, to be kind, and to approach life’s challenges with courage?” Research demonstrates that the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. For a moment, reflect on who you are to your child. Are you their person? When they think about you, what comes up for them? 

Who you are to your child is more important than what you say or how much parenting “knowledge” you have. Who you are is based on the “relational credits” that you have built up over time with your child. Relational credits are gained when a child feels seen, heard, and loved. These credits are accrued when you’re least aware—when you’re reading a book to a child, emanating warmth and presence as they tell you about their day, or lying on the floor and playing with them. This gradual buildup of relational moments creates an anchor for a child during life’s storms.

When my husband and I first began living with our foster children, I was consumed with how to connect with them, how to get them to truly trust me. It is in hindsight now that I recognize that trust was built up over micro-moments—daily interactions over time.

When we encounter life’s inevitable storms, our children need us to be an anchor. The anchor is primarily nonverbal and needs to be the standard we strive for in all difficult interactions with our child, regardless of their age. It is in our ability to remain present, to keep our voice warm and resonant, our bodies open and relaxed, and to use touch and gestures in a manner that elicits trust.

Often we rush to “fix,” and in lieu of calming the stress response, we accelerate it. Your child needs you to slow down and calm your thoughts and your body. When you do this, your child’s alarm system is calmed, and their thinking brain is nurtured. This differs greatly from the parenting model we have seen in the recent past. Instead of emphasizing “teaching,” the emphasis is on “connection.”

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