How to help your child be more resilient with a little help from Big Bird!

How to help your child be more resilient with a little help from Big Bird!

You know it’s tough being a kid, starting school, making friends, trying to get on with your brother or sister, wanting to be liked, making the right choices. Managing all these day-to-day challenges can be a tall order for any kid. It takes resilience. But how do kids become resilient? Are you born resilient? Do you acquire it? How can you help your child to be more resilient to cope with the stress and adversity of everyday life?

Back in November, I was interviewed by the fabulous Talya from Motherhood: The Real Deal about what it is like to raise adopted children. One of the questions Talya asked was what had I learned from this experience. One of my biggest learnings has been to understand my children’s resilience and how this can help them cope with what life will throw at them.

I have been trying to find out more about resilience. And I have discovered Big Bird can offer some support in helping your child to be more resilient.

Resilience. It’s more than a management buzz word

Resilience is more than the latest corporate management buzz word used to build ‘resilient teams’ to withstand and overcome adversity and crises in the workplace.  You know the email server has gone down, we’ve run out of tea and coffee, the photocopier has gone bust! (I’m not missing those days!)

And it’s not about Bear Grylls being thrown in the outback, jungle swamps, using his sharp wits and SAS training to survive.

What is resilience?

Is it the capacity to overcome adversity?

I love this definition of resilience:

Resilience is beating the odds whilst also changing the odds, Professor Angie Hart, Boing Boing Click To Tweet

That meaning was coined by Professor Angie Hart who leads an organisation called Boing Boing.

Boing Boing is a pioneer in resilience therapy for children. They help children who have had a really tough start to life and give them mechanisms to become resilient, to beat the odds and change the odds of their lives.

We aren’t born resilient, we acquire it

As Angie describes it, we become resilient by being given a helping hand, someone, maybe a teacher, a youth leader they made a resilient move.

  • They give us support
  • They believe in us
  • Help put our lives on a positive trajectory

This, in turn, helps us to make our own resilient moves and make positive choices.

Our resilient move for our children

If you are a regular follower of this blog you will know we adopted our kids. That was our resilient move.

But we have needed a lot of help from others around us to help build our kids resilience. I am calling this group of people – Team Resilient. And I want to say thank you.

Our Team Resilient – Thank you!

  • To the school that noticed our children’s neglect, and helped to take them out of an unsafe home situation
  • To the social workers, who tracked us down, saw our potential as the right family for our adopted children
  • To the psychologist who helped my daughter understand that forever parents means forever and our love is unconditional
  • To the teachers at our children’s school who saw beyond our children’s trauma, fear and anxiety, worked with them to bring out their very best
  • To  Place2Be, provided at my children’s school, that gave my children a creative outlet for their troubled emotions. They still have this skill and use it to express how they feel through art
  • To my adoption agency, TACT, who provided 24 weeks of play therapy helping to give back years of lost nurture

Then we moved to France

For our kids, it was adversity of epic proportions. To them, it felt like the end of the world. Seriously what were we doing to them?

They left behind friends and family, moved to a new school in Paris, had to learn in French and make new friends speaking French.

But they used their resilience skills. And you know what?

They speak French, they have friends, they go to a French holiday playscheme, do swimming lessons in French, do their school lessons and homework in French. I’m blown away!

Thank you Team Resilient! We couldn’t have done this without you.

How Big Bird can help your child be more resilient

The Sesame Street gang have put together a resilience toolkit.

Little Children, Big Challenges helps kids build self-confidence, develop problem-solving skills and emotional strength to be more resilient and cope with everyday adversity.

There are tools for:

  • Coping with the morning (some mornings in our house….baaadd!)
  • Tackling something new (I could have done with this a year ago!)
  • Activity printables  (These are aimed at teachers but I am going to use these!)

And I think the toolkit is brilliant. I really wish I had found it before we moved to Paris because I could have really done with some child centred activities to help my kids cope with the pre-move anxiety, settling in and making friends.

Want to know more about how to help your child be more resilient?

Check out these articles

1. Karen Young,  from Hey Sigmund, advises resilience needs relationships and increasing our kids’ exposure to people who care about them.

2. The Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University notes that learning to cope with manageable stress is critical for the developing resilience in children. Not all stress is bad, we need to take the opportunity to help our kids cope with stress and see this as a growth opportunity.

3. Learning from failure. According to Judy Willis MD, we all make mistakes and to start seeing these mistakes as an opportunity for the brain to build a bridge that will bring success in the future. When we make mistakes our brain rewires helping us to make a better choice the next time. It’s OK to get things wrong.

4.  This in-depth article in The Atlantic is really interesting. It points to external factors that help the build resilience in our children and this starts early on in our kids’ lives, at infancy when our children use our responses to make sense of their world. Also, we have a big role to play in how we regulate our kids’ reaction to stress. A calm and measured approach by us will help our kids cope with strong emotions, stress and intense feeling even unpleasant ones.

Photo credit, Tyler Merbler courtesy of Flickr

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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  1. September 13, 2017 / 8:13 am

    This is an inspiring post about resiliency. I am inspired after reading it. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  2. April 19, 2017 / 7:44 am

    I would love to make my children more resilient. My older 2 have had to cope with their biological dad leaving us and me then finding a new partner which was difficult especially for my eldest. Life is tough and I have tried to protect them from the worst but they need to be able to manage in their futures
    Musings of a tired mummy…zzz… recently posted…Are 3 kids easier than 1? The food exampleMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      April 19, 2017 / 7:09 pm

      That’s how I feel, my two had a really tough start in life but they need to start standing on their own two feet, make choices, but also make mistakes – that they can learn from. I am sure your kids will be resilient, they are a lot stronger than we give them credit for!

  3. April 1, 2017 / 9:26 am

    I’ve never really thought about this before but your right it’s important to teach our kids to be resilient isn’t it? #KCACOLS
    Maria recently posted…Pulp Wine subscription boxMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      April 1, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much!

  4. Amie
    March 29, 2017 / 10:07 am

    This is something I’ve never really thought of before – how to teach my children to be more resilient. They’re still only babies so reading this has given me a lot to think about 🙂 I’m glad your children have settled down so well
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
    Amie recently posted…Amelia’s 2 Year UpdateMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      March 30, 2017 / 12:18 pm

      Thank you, it is a skill my kids now have and it’s been great to see them grow and flourish.

    • Tooting Mama
      March 28, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Kid’s can be mean, but it’s all learning for when they get older!

  5. Hannah Jane
    March 23, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    A really great, interesting and informative post. Resilience is not always an easy skill to acquire but definitely an important one, and one it seems your family have a pretty good grasp of- we probably need more practice. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x
    Hannah Jane recently posted…What My Kid Wore WednesdayMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      March 24, 2017 / 7:03 am

      Thanks so much!

  6. March 20, 2017 / 10:46 pm

    What a great post! Resilience is something that even adults struggle with. In my professional experience/life I see discussions around this all the time “how can we help our leaders develop resilience..” so if this is something that we can help develop in our children I think that is pretty amazing. There are some really great resources here too, I’m going to try the learning tree one with my little one who could really work on being more open to trying new things from time to time 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • Tooting Mama
      March 21, 2017 / 4:56 pm

      Thank you! I remember discussions about leadership and what makes good leadership! At least now I know! Yes I love the thinking tree, and I’ve used the breathing exercises on my little girl!

    • Tooting Mama
      March 21, 2017 / 4:53 pm

      Aww thank you. It’s good to know there is a team out there supporting you!

    • Tooting Mama
      March 21, 2017 / 4:52 pm

      Thank you! You are right, there is a huge pressure on children now, and resilience is a life skill we all need!

  7. March 19, 2017 / 9:52 pm

    This is really important. I especially like the one about it being ok to make mistakes and learn from them.
    Laura recently posted…The Siblings Project – MarchMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      March 20, 2017 / 6:24 am

      Thank you. It’s reassuring to know that we can make mistakes and benefit from them!

    • Tooting Mama
      March 19, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      Thank you!

    • Tooting Mama
      March 20, 2017 / 6:25 am

      Yes me too! I think resilience is a hugely important lifeskill!

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