Day 5, Building Resilience in Children; Building Character


People with strong core values make the greatest contributions, have the best sense of self, form the most secure and healthy relationships, and build the strongest communities. They are also happiest and often feel gratified and successful in life. People with strong character strengths are more resilient because they have the ability to return to a set of core values during trying times. It's so important to teach our kids at a young age how to do the right thing, even when others are not looking. We need to prepare them with strong character strengths so they can lead us into the future because let's face it, sometimes doing the right thing, isn't the most popular. I can't even imagine being their age nowadays. I thought "peer pressure" was hard when I grew up...it's so different and much worse now.

Parents need to notice and nurture our children's inherent character strengths and can teach and reinforce others. We do so best when we model good living. With good role modeling, we can be pretty sure our children will develop strong character strengths themselves. We can be positive role models when we show our young people that we constantly work to improve ourselves, and that it’s okay to have flaws.

Character strengths can roughly be divided into two groups; performance character strengths and moral character strengths. Performance strengths are ones that predict success at school and work. They include qualities such as strong work ethic, perseverance, initiative, self-discipline, goal setting and determination, to name a few. Moral character strengths involve qualities such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty and loyalty. In other words, it means that you're a good person and have respect for others. They also include personal ways of interacting with people like generosity, forgiveness, caring, and showing loving kindness. Moral character enables us to be resilient and to experience gratitude even during challenging moments.

Do the Right Thing

Our fast-paced society values personal success. But we must be sure that our teens also value kindness, cooperation, sharing, and compassion for others. In a society that fosters the importance of winning, we must reinforce that it is how we play the game that defines us. In a culture where independence is a sign of success, we must communicate that the strongest, most fulfilled people are those who admit they need others. These issues pose some of the heftiest challenges of our times. Parenting isn’t easy and often it involves us making decisions that don't make our children happy, but doing the right thing defines character, doesn’t it?

Be the Tortoise; Not the Hare

Immediate gratification is a powerful motivator. Who doesn’t want pleasure now? But we know that the people who ultimately achieve their goals are those that can delay their immediate wants — they have those performance character strengths tightly tied to self-control.

When we support our children's tenacity and grit, we are setting the foundation for a strong, solid future. We do this when we reinforce values like saving and budgeting; allowing them to save now and later invest in something more meaningful to them. We do this every time we recognize their effort, despite the result. We do this by preparing them to be future-oriented so they work harder and make wiser decisions today and are are well equipped for tomorrow. Our children will learn through osmosis and what they are taught that more planning, design, and thoughtfulness up front produces better results in the end.

Positive Reinforcement

Sharing from experience, telling your child what they aern't doing right or how they should behave doesn’t work. It typically even backfires. Nobody likes being told what to do, it implies that they have a weakness and overtime can lead to confidence, lack of self esteem as well as depression and anxiety.

So how do you teach your kids and get them to do what is necessary? It actually takes more patience and effort but reinforce their best self. Nobody knows your child's strengths and weaknesses like you do. When you frame kids positively it does more than reinforce character. It protects them from those who might harm how they view themselves. It’s vitally important to be rooted in who you really are, especially as they go through their teenage years and early adulthood when so many others try to define you.

Ask yourself, what are the things that really define your child? Compassion? Caring? Fairness? Generosity? A healthy dose of stubbornness? A drive to get things done? The ability to bounce back after tough times? Humility? Gentleness? Sensitivity? Toughness? A can-do-it attitude? Gratitude? Grit? You'll be surprised how each of your kids have different strengths and weaknesses. I have five children and they all are completely unique in their personalities. What works for one, doesn't work for the others and vice versa.

Let your teens see themselves as they deserve to be seen. Through unconditionally loving and respectful eyes. Recognizing their strengths does more than help them feel good about themselves. It positions them to understand that they possess the capacity to do the right thing. To move beyond temporary setbacks and to correct mistakes.

Be Empathic

One key to raising teens who will treat others with fairness and kindness in the future, is to treat them with empathy today. Our empathy teaches them to listen to their own emotions. When we allow them to process their feelings, we support their emotional maturity and mental health. On the other hand, if we belittle their emotions, even in an effort to help them get past discomfort, they’ll learn to block their feelings, keeping everything bottled inside. They won’t value sensitivity and will be less likely to empathize with others.

Lead by Example

Our children develop character through the core values we teach, our words of praise, the way we correct them and reinforce expectations. They learn through daily interactions outside the home and as well as watching how adults treat each other within the home.

Our children also hear our silence loudly and clearly...trust me. They are much more observant than you'd think. They can tell how we're feeling just by watching our body language and facial expressions. Being passive in situations that are morally wrong is making a statement. Be the kind of person you want to see as a reflection in your child’s eyes. If you live by that thought, you’ll do the right thing, even when nobody’s looking. Living by core character strengths isn’t just about treating others well. It enriches us and enhances our own sense of security and well-being..

We're all Perfectly Imperfect

One of the most important things I've learned is no one is perfect. Sure we all say that but let that soak in and really resonate with you. We live in a world where perfectionism is consuming people's lives and ultimately sending them into a toxic spiral because they've set their own expectations so high they never will achieve them. What makes us good models is not that we are perfect, but that we acknowledge we're always working to improve ourselves. What makes us good parents is not that we have all the answers. It’s that we care about our children, family, friendships, our home, work hard, and always do the best we can with the resources we have. Kids will see that, learn and respect that more than anything. One of the great things about parenting a teen is that you can engage in authentic discussions about the struggles you've worked through to reach a goal, setbacks and progress made, even if you're not there...yet. There is often more to model as you walk the journey than there is once you’re comfortably at your destination.

Keep up the good work...you're passing on your legacy and values to your favorite people and with the right guidance, love, empathy and support, you’ll be making a difference for years to come.

xoxo,

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