The world has changed. We have changed. Our daily routines have changed. Where does that leave our kids? Many are feeling stressed and anxious about what the world is going to look like and be like for them. As we all navigate new information and new ways of living, now, more than ever, we need to help our kids feel healthy, happy, and confident. To do this, let’s focus on helping them become rooted (in who they are), resilient (to changes and challenges), and ready (for whatever is coming next).
How to help your kids be rooted: Rooted is being grounded, feeling certain and secure, and having an inner knowingness. It’s the “This is who I am, what I can do, and what I want” confidence. When kids are rooted, they feel strong and healthy. Why? This is because they believe they have value and worth and they know their qualities, their talents, and strengths, and they see how they are learning and growing. When kids aren’t rooted, they not only feel insecure but also they are so easily influenced, pressured, or rattled by mistakes, comments, or conflicts. When I am talking to kids about becoming rooted, I explain that when they have two feet firmly placed on the ground, they are standing on a solid foundation, unwavering and unshakeable. Conversely, when they are only standing on one foot, they are not stable, and they feel “wobbly” and as though they may fall over. We need our kids to be rooted. But how do we make that happen?
Tip: Try asking them to describe themselves. They may come up with: “I am kind”, “I am creative”, or “I am athletic.” Then, ask them for examples. “How do you show this quality?” Let’s have them gather evidence as a way to prove to themselves, they own these qualities. You can try the same for their skills. “What do you know how to do?” Kids underestimate what they view as “easy” like posting on social media or baking a cake. Let’s help them see their skill set as unique and important. Finally, talk to them often about what they want. “Let’s set a goal for this month—what would you like to learn about or accomplish?” They may suggest reading a book or creating a playlist. Let them choose and help them break goals into smaller steps, reminding them that, yes, they can do anything, if they are willing to put in both the time and effort.
How to help your kids be resilient: Resilient is all about bouncing back: from mistakes, disappointments, and setbacks. Life can be tough such as the shutting down of playgrounds, community centers, schools, events, and socializing. Yet, life also presents kids with opportunities for triumphant comebacks. Resiliency is essential because when young people learn to not give up, they also gain confidence. Working through challenges builds up their resiliency muscles. How do we nurture and then champion resilience?
Tip: We let them struggle and we let them fail which is one of the most difficult parts of parenting and caregiving and yet, one of the best ways for kids to learn. Try not to be the “snowplow parent” aka clearing the path to make your child’s journey easy or the “lawnmower parent” where you pave the way for them. Instead, try to be the periphery parent. This means empowering them to stand in the center of their own circle, rooted, as you take a few steps back to assure them you are there for them but you are doing the tough stuff like asking a teacher for help or ordering at a restaurant, for them. Your role is still active, as you learn to observe, ask questions, and provide guidance and support, but you give them the necessary room to try, to make mistakes, to try again (or try differently), and to cheer them on as they work their way through problems. Kids feel much better about themselves when they are supported at a distance and not micro-managed up close.
How to help you kids be ready: Ready is about preparation and action for what is to come. Feeling ready comes with expectation and hope that life will change and that we can be part of designing our dreams. Yes, “readiness” is a tricky word these days; it’s hard to think about next week, let alone next year. Yet, here is what I have been teaching kids: Steps they take today towards creating their future can bring them a sense of energy and optimism. There is no greater time to get ready than now, since many kids are not as busy with extra-curricular activities and school, and they have extra time. Where to start?
Tip: Have conversations about future goals in a playful and curious way. You discover a lot about kids when you ask big and open questions such as: “Where do you see yourself working when you are older?” Be the “dream booster” not the “dream buster.” In other words, as silly or unrealistic his or her ideas may be, follow their ideas. Interested in science? Start experimenting. Want to be a Starbucks barista? Start brewing coffee at home. Invest the time into listening to them and then take action to support their ideas. This could mean discussion, researching online, talking to people in the community, and actually developing a skillset (whether this is technology, drawing, coding, or cooking; the possibilities are endless). Remind them, as well, that you believe in them!
Yes, we are living in an extraordinary world; let’s use this as an opportunity to help our kids be extraordinarily rooted, resilient, and ready.
For more, check out Growing Strong Girls: Practical Tools to Cultivate Connection in the Preteen Years and Rooted, Resilient, and Ready now available on Amazon and Audible and the website Bold New Girls.