Creating Stillness in the Chaos 12/3/17

(Children) absorb the way that our mood can so easily be a slave to external events. In contrast to this, when they see us steady, resolute, and resilient in the face of difficult circumstances, they learn how to flow with life instead of battling it. They learn that there will be days when they are up and others when they are down, but that neither the ups nor the downs affect who we are in our core being. We feel everything, yet none of it defines us. We are only defined by our essential selves.”
— Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D.

Tryouts for winter sports means relief and excitement for some and heartbreak and disappointment for others. Upcoming finals usually means stress, and we know it comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Freshmen may be feeling this kind of stress for the first time and may not understand it or know what to do. Whatever they are feeling or however they are manifesting stress, it is common for kids to feel like it is them (a character flaw rather than a compound set of issues). They may see it as their issue and theirs alone rather than a common set of feelings shared/felt/experienced by many and intensified at this time and under these circumstances (tryouts, grades, time change, college applications, etc.).

We’ll be honest, it is hard to know what to say or not say, do or not do, if and when our kids are struggling with what is on their plates.  We struggle with the balance of what is too much, and how we’re handling our own responsibilities. Even the task of keeping up with emails, deleting the junk and following up with the essentials can be overwhelming for us.  Each of us has a different tolerance for stress and a different comfort level for how much we can take on. At this developmental stage, our kids are figuring out what they can handle before getting to meltdown or shutdown mode. They are discovering what their default settings are for activity, engagement, and stress. They are learning to balance their needs and interests (Classes, Clubs, Sports, Jobs, Community Service, Family, Friends, Time with Self). What we can each handle or take on is different and unique to us.

When reading Shefali Tsabary’s work this week, we felt challenged to see whether our kids see us as steady, resolute, and resilient in the face of difficult circumstances. We agree that it is important for them to learn how to flow with life instead of battling it, and recognize how difficult it is to remain resilient. Each day, and every moment in the day, brings highs and lows. We can all strengthen our resilience by figuring out how to flow in ways that work for us.  

Resources on Resilience

Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience. When the road gets rocky, what do you do? (Greater Good, 2016). To build resilience: (1) Change the narrative, (2) Face your fears, (3) Practice self-compassion, (4) Meditate, and (5) Cultivate forgiveness.

Building Resilience in Children – 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies (Backed by Science) (Hey Sigmund, 2016).

10 Tips For Raising Resilient Kids (Psych Central, 2016)

Perfectly Imperfect,