Have you ever considered the importance of teaching children to become resilient?
For us, as adults, it’s easy to get frustrated these days. Whether you are a big-picture person, looking at the trends in surveillance technology and “The Great Reset” hubris, or an ordinary person frustrated by spiking prices and constant supply headaches. Many of us have had to tap into our inner resources to stand resilient in the face of these challenges.
How can we teach kids to do the same? How do we teach our children the vital skill of resilience?
Helping your children find their tribe
Many of us found our friendships and family relationships changed over the past year. I know my children have dealt with the same thing. With remote schooling, they could not see friends in person anymore. My children found, after talking online, many of their friends held widely different views on what has been happening. For example, my children have had former friends tell them it’s the fault of “people like us” (the vaccine-hesitant) that old people are all dying.
It’s worth the effort to help your kids find at least one or two kids with similar interests and values. My daughter has a Canadian pen pal who is very like-minded. They don’t correspond super regularly, but it’s enough for my daughter to know she’s not alone. My boys know to practice OPSEC in general, but we know a couple of families in town around whom we can speak freely.
Taking care of your own mental health will help your children
If you don’t lose it every time the power goes out or the toilet clogs, they probably won’t either. We had so many plumbing problems when I first got on septic. I was constantly plunging. There were plenty of tears and frustration at first, but as I got better at managing clogs, it just became more of a regular chore. These days, the kids only tell me about a clog if it’s a spectacularly bad one. Most of the time, they get the plunger and deal with it themselves. No drama.
The same mentality applies in terms of eating habits. If all of your meals are made “just right” at very set times, your kids will see you being picky about food and will be less likely to roll with changes. I’ve written before about spiking commodity prices and how most of us will have to make adjustments in terms of grocery shopping. Again, if you can handle these changes gracefully and be mentally resilient, your kids probably will too.
Be honest without being alarming
I’m not a big fan of lying and saying everything is fine when it isn’t. It’s important to teach kids about disasters and crises without scaring them. Teenagers, in general, have pretty good BS detectors. I need to watch my mouth and avoid complaining too much because I don’t want to drag the family down with me. I try to be honest, and so far, my kids have handled changes in our routine as well as can be expected.
For example, I have been making my own bread for well over a decade. However, I could not find yeast in the stores for months. Fortunately, one of my neighbors kept a sourdough starter and was willing to share it with me. We’ve been mainly eating sourdough ever since. My kids aren’t crazy about it, but they have seen the shelves at the store.
Get fit, stay fit
Exercise can be a great way to spend quality time with your children and learn about their abilities and skill levels. Bringing along a friend or two can be interesting, to observe how all the kids do with different group dynamics.
I have three children, and my youngest child’s best friend, I’ll call him Joseph, is the oldest of three. We invited Joseph on a hike recently. I planned on a hike of approximately three miles at elevation. I know my children can do that because we’ve done many hikes similar to my planned one. I asked Joseph’s parents what they thought. They were willing to let Joseph give it a shot but cautioned me he’d never done anything like that before, he tended to get hot and tired quickly, and he may need his inhaler.
I packed plenty of water, snacks, and Gatorade and agreed that we would stop as soon as Joseph needed to. Well, not only did Joseph do the whole three miles, but he also climbed a lot of rocks along the trail and wanted to climb more. I had to be the one to call it quits, mostly because I wanted to drive home before rush hour.
Joseph’s parents and I learned a lot. We had a good discussion afterward. When Joseph saw his friend keeping up with older and taller teenagers, I’m pretty sure it motivated him far more than hiking with his little sisters. My kids enjoyed the hike because Joseph is a genuinely funny, interesting kid. I believe Joseph gained a lot of confidence. We all won.
Wisely choosing your children’s entertainment can help
I am on the extremely strict end, in some ways. My children have a stupid phone to talk and send photos to friends. However, there is no Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram. In general, if we want to socialize, we try to meet people in person. Otherwise, we watch DVDs or read books.
One of the beauties surrounding books is that they aren’t grid-dependent. People have been passing long winter nights in front of the fire, telling stores for millennia. Going back to that won’t be the worst thing by a long shot if the grid breaks down.
We read a lot of books and find it provides numerous topics for conversation.
The right books can give children a great deal of perspective
For example, my teenage daughter complained a lot about me not treating her like an adult and letting her listen to “adult conversations.”
So I let her read Yeonmi Park’s autobiography, In Order to Live. It’s a well-written, VERY adult book, in many ways. It’s the true story of a thirteen-year-old girl escaping North Korea. My daughter burned through it in two days because she kept wanting to know what would happen next. It is a relatively recent book, and you can watch Yeonmi Park giving interviews on YouTube to put a face to the woman in the story. My daughter learned a lot about what some people do to survive.
Good books can give children ideas about what to do with their time
Thirty years ago, children didn’t need an electrical grid and the world wide web to stay entertained. I played some computer games when I was younger, but there was a lot more street hockey and exploring outdoors. Reading books about how children lived before can give your children ideas and help them create their own, grid-independent entertainment.
When most of us think of childhood and adolescence now, we think of school, sports, music, and fun trips. As a parent, that’s what I hear most other parents discussing. And I do believe there is value in those activities, but we saw last year how quickly those things could disappear. I would have been devastated if marching band stopped for me as a high schooler the way activities stopped for high schoolers last year.
Nothing matches the feeling of being a needed team member
There is always work to be done. What projects you do together will depend significantly on the ages and abilities of your children and your living situation. Having the kids involved in gardening is an option for many people. Some fortunate folks like myself have a variety of farm projects to keep everyone busy. However, even if you live in a high-rise, your younger children can still help prepare food.
Older children can help with meal plans and shop. If you’ve had severe grocery shortages in your area, bringing your children to the store with you so you can see what’s available and plan accordingly will be very instructive. Try to function as a team, particularly if you have teenagers.
It’s important to find meaningful projects to work on together.
It’s also important to let your children fail and to let them see you fail
I find it highly unlikely that things will “go back to normal.” Between vaccine passports, supply chain problems, international tensions, and the absolute destruction of our currency, I don’t see a way out of the mess we’re in without some pain. And it would be naïve in the extreme to think that we can buy all the right gear, stock up on ammo, and come out of the zombie apocalypse unscathed. By exposing your kids to small, manageable failures and frustrations, they will be more prepared for more significant problems that may arise.
I’ve had a significant fall from grace in my life. I was once a suburban wife and mom, primarily suitable for office work and child-raising. Then, I found myself alone with my kids in a semi-rural area, in a poorly maintained old cabin, living on a fraction of the income I thought I would have at my disposal.
Yes, I learned a lot over the years, and we now have a comfortable, productive home. But it was a rocky road. Big changes are always painful, and no amount of gear will change that. Your mindset will. Your ability to fail and still get up to face the next day will.
Your children can be a liability or an asset
Small children are a ton of work. There’s no way around it. But if you have middle and high school-age children, they can be your biggest allies if adequately prepared. My kids are my biggest support network these days because we’re used to working together. In our downtime, we talk, and I try to help them understand as much as they can.
Selco talks about survival circles in this article and you can gain access to the webinar on the same topic here. Ideally, your children should be in the smallest of your small circles. By helping them become more capable and resilient, it will make your little circle more able to withstand whatever life throws at it.
How do you teach your children to be more resilient?
Is teaching your kids to be resilient something you work on, or do you try to protect them from the harsher aspects of life? If you are teaching children to be resilient and strong, what methods are you using? Do you have any success stories to share? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Joanna has been homeschooling three children since 2012. In 2014, she moved to the High Plains of Colorado. She and her children began a little homestead, gardening and raising chickens for eggs and meat. One animal led to another, and these days they have livestock guardian dogs, chickens, geese, ducks, alpacas, goats, pigs, and one very spoiled cat.