If you're new to this series, you'll want to go back and read the previous posts leading to this one:
Raising Resilience: How to Help Our Kids Become Adults Who Can Cope (Intro)
Raising Resilience: Why Our Kids Are Less Resilient Than Ever (Part 1)
All right! Now that you're totally with me, let's dive into the self-awareness part of this series. To be able to fully utilize the information in this series, you've got to first place yourself in it and figure out how you personally relate to it. This is the part where we help you get cognizant of where you fall on the parenting spectrum. This will help you self-correct as you go, thereby better fostering the behaviors that will help your kids develop emotional and personal self-agency.
Exercise 1: Self-Reflection
Take a moment and think about when you're faced with your child's most difficult behaviors or negative emotions. Got that image in your mind? Now let's get in tune with what your natural tendency is as a parent.
When your child is upset or struggling:
a. Do you intervene?
b. How quickly?
c. How do you intervene or react? (ie: do you redirect them, process what's going on, distract them, use the screen, raise your voice, or try to fix or stop it?)
The goal here is just to notice. Not to attach a good or bad value to your own response. You'll be using this self-awareness to improve your ability to use the suggestions that are coming in the next series post.
Exercise 2: Mindset Shift
Consider the following:
a. When in your early life did you experience disappointment?
What happened? How did you cope? What did you learn and how did you grow from this disappointment?
b. When in your early life did you not get or not achieve something you wanted dearly?
What happened? How did you get through it? What did you learn from it, and how did you grow from this?
c. When in your early life did you experience a real failure?
What happened? How did you deal with it? How did you learn and grow from this failure?
d. When in your early life did you make a mistake you needed to fix yourself?
What happened? How did you get through this difficulty? What did you learn from it, and how did you grow from it?
If you had trouble thinking of an example for each, take it as a good sign -- it's not that you didn't experience that particular challenge or emotion, it's likely that the memory didn't stick with you to this day.... So what can that help us realize as parents? That not every difficulty is going to be branded in our child's memory forever. In fact, most will not be.
If you thought of a few particularly strong or notable memories, take a moment to reflect: would you be who you are today without those experiences? Why or why not?
How can reflecting on your own journey of struggle and growth inform how you parent? Is there a way that you can shift viewing your child's challenges from negative experiences that need to be stopped, to being gifts that foster learning and growth?
I hope that you found these reflection exercises useful. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or to talk about what came up for you! In the next part of this series we'll dive into a list of the top suggestions to help you parent in a way that will help foster your child's lifelong resilience. I can't wait to share them with you!
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is the founder of Lauren Drago Therapy in Old Saybrook, CT and in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve by changing how they experience and understand their world. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, and call (860) 339-6515 to schedule your free initial consultation.