Posted in Parenting

Three Ways to Build Resilience in Children Through Forgiveness


Recently I am being asked more and more to share a talk I have created on building resilience in children. The basic foundation of the workshop is intentionally teaching our children how to forgive. For any children in our lives, we need to actively find ways to eliminate brittle bitterness. Instead, we need to model and teach how forgiveness is actually a way to build resilience rather than weakness.

Forcing our children to say they are sorry is the least effective technique we can utilize. Providing opportunities to instead say “I forgive you” creates an environment of peaceful unification. Resilience creates an environment in which both setbacks and successes are treated as positive learning experiences so our children are not broken by their experiences. When we fail to teach this mindset to children we actually strengthen a spirit of fear and mistrust which weakens their spirits of resolve. We let our children down if we try to protect our children from every possible bad thing that could happen. We also let them down by not preparing them and giving them the tools they need in this life. God has never told us life would be easy. Our hope is in Him, not in what we avoid.

Resilience creates an environment in which both setbacks and successes are treated as positive learning experiences so our children are not broken by their experiences.

Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.

However, the main purpose of teaching forgiveness is the biblical commands presented and modeled to us over and over again by God. Jesus is the reason we can be forgiven and he is the reason we can forgive others. While we don’t want our children to carry an identity of sin and feel a constant need for forgiveness,  we want them to understand that we all make mistakes and because of Jesus, we are forgiven. Share that when we come to him and admit our need for his forgiveness, he responds to us with outstretched arms. Because of Jesus’ example, we know how to respond to others. We love (and forgive) because he first loved (and forgave) us.

Here are three perhaps unusual ways to build resilience in children that can lead to a gentle peaceful heart that is strengthened to weather the storms of this life through forgiveness.

  1. Three Ways: So many times when we are hurt by others or circumstances it can feel like its the worse situation that could have ever arisen. In reality, when we have enough time and space we can gain a new more positive perspective on difficult and devastating situations. Walk your child through three ways this situation could have been worse. Discuss the feelings, what it would like, and then discuss gratitude for the current situation not being the result of these three other ways.
  2. Plastic Funny Shield: Researchers have found again and again that survivors of horrific tragedies share one thing in common. A strong sense of humor. Laughter truly is the best medicine and can provide a shield of defense for everything our children are going to have to endure. Teach your children to look for the silly, the unexpected, and to laugh out loud at any opportunity. Do not disregard the power of teaching your preschoolers tongue twisters, your elementary students non-sensical punch lines, practical jokes, or your tweens and teens to laugh at jokes about the human experience.
  3. Practical Problem Solving: Somehow we have all fallen into the trap that unscheduled time brings pain and horror upon ourselves and our children. How many of us have loaded apps and games onto our devices to protect our children from <gasp>…waiting. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children to build their resilience to anything that comes their way is to make the most of what they have. Bricoleurs are always tinkering—building radios from household effects or fixing their own cars. They make the most of what they have, putting objects to unfamiliar uses. They are incredibly resourceful. Create Tinker Trays, Inventor Boxes, Loose Part Exploration to practically build this sense of resourcefulness into your children’s day to day activities rather than trying to protect them from it. These types of activities teach our children that things don’t always turn out perfectly or the way we think they should but they still have value.

By and large, build resiliency in your children through giving them a better grasp of reality at each stage of life they are in. Build their hearts and minds through humor and laughter. Don’t bubble wrap your kids now thinking they are better off in the long run.

I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all you do.

Joshua 1:9

 

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Posted in Thinking out loud

I don’t have anything innovative to say.


You may find yourself in a similar position as me. A cool thing has ended and you are waiting around for the next cool bus to jump on. Maybe it’s a project. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s a calling. Maybe it’s just a feeling that something is coming down the line. I may not have anything innovative to say But I do just want to remind you of three things if you are in a holding pattern.

  1. Do something. Twiddling your thumbs may be all the energy you can pull up after this last phase of your life ended but do something. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do but don’t let that dictate your everyday existence. Do what only you can do. Write, call, create, organize, research use some brain cells during this waiting time. Learn a little something new.
  2. Don’t go to pot. Literally or figuratively. Take care of yourself. If something has ended in your life then something is definitely about to happen. We are always in preparation for the next stage. Do you need to rest more? Sit on the patio and read a book? Hold a baby? Drink more water? Eat pizza with friends? Take a social media break? Actually exercise? Cut out the sugar? Meditate? Pray? I know for me, the last few weeks have been re-connecting with friends and family to build an anchor for my soul. It’s also been important to move into disciplined and consistent exercise.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. We have created a vicious un-loving culture centered around DOING rather than BEING. Just as you never what to get Number 2 confused with Number 1 in bathroom life Don’t get number 3 on this list confused with number 1. We have fallen for this trap that if we are doing something then we must have value. It has to be something big. Something important. Something highly instagrammable. If a season of your life has ended that took up much of your identity it is easy to fall into a pit of despair when “That Thing” is over. I know for myself I have had those stupid self-pity sessions starting with “I don’t have anything to offer that anyone would want anyway.” Thus, one of many reasons I have picked up my blog again.

There really is a time for everything. Time for waiting. Time for healing. Time for grieving. Time for dreaming. Use this time that you have to gear up for the next BIG Important Deal in your life! Let me know what’s working or not working for you.

qusai-akoud-85807

Photo by Qusai Akoud on Unsplash

 

Posted in Thinking out loud

Titled: I should know better or Mounds of Friends, you pick


I know should know better than to eat after 9 p.m. It just leads to either crazy dreams or disrupted sleep. But of course last night my last Hershey bar and the jar of peanut butter was calling my name at 11 p.m.

The result was not just crazy dreams but a tormenting nightmare which resulted in my murder. It was one of those horrible, paralyzing dreams that seemed in real time. My death was not quick. It was slow, and tortuous, and the kind that all women fear.

As you can imagine, once I was able to wake up there was no way I was closing my eyes again. Like ever. So, I’ve been up for awhile.

But that horrible nightmare caused me to wake up incredibly grateful for Life. The safety of living where I do and when I do, for the most wonderful, decent, gracious, loving husband, for sunshine and daylight after a dark night, for beautiful, healthy children, and for mounds and mounds of friends.

Beautiful friends, loving friends, creative friends, unique friends, family that are friends, inspiring friends, challenging friends, supportive friends, friends I’ve never really had physical contact, friends that are in heaven, friends that I have yet to meet.

So, if today you are inundated with texts, DMs, phone calls, emails, telepathic messages, movings from The Spirit, from me spouting accolades you’ll know why. I am grateful to do life with you. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful to live as fully as possible with those God places in my path.

Lamentations 3:22-23

The Message (MSG)

 22-24God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.