10 (unusual) ways to raise resilient kids. No1: Awareness experiment

Ever wondered why some people thrive when faced with adversity, while others seem to visibly melt?

No?

I can’t say that this question was top of my ‘things to know list’ either, that was until I read GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth.

Since then, I’ve been head down researching this topic, and that was 6 months ago.

“Why is that Dominic?”, I hear you say…

Duckworth’s research shows that gritresilience beats IQ, social background, qualifications, talent (anything else you care to mentions in fact), in predicting how likely you are to have a happy and successful life.

And as a parent looking to help their kids to grow up to be happy and successful adults, this is the kind of information I need to know.

So, how do you raise resilient kids?

with great power comes great responsibility

The great news for us parents (and our little treasures), is that resilience is not a ‘you have it or you don’t’ quality; Duckworth is clear; it can be taught.

However, there’s no RESILIENCE curriculum or training, no formal instruction. Instead, our kids will pick it up from us (parents) mostly, their friends, teachers and their life experience.

Which to my mind at least, is a bit worrying!

Resilience seems too important to leave to chance, and I don’t believe it’s anybody else’s responsibility to make sure my kids learn how to be resilient other than my own.

Which is why I spent 6 months researching how I can make sure that I could teach my kids to be resilient.

So where do you start?

a two-tiered approach

First of all, your child needs the right conditions to grow and develop their resilience, which means that parents have to create a framework which permits this. This means approaching family life in a more purposeful way- with a view to deliberately encouraging a resilient attitude and mindset, instead of functioning on autopilot as most of us tend to do.

That’s precisely what this article will help you to do: create that framework.

And secondly, you need to let your child experience resilience, to do, to practice (preferably in the comfort and safety of your own home), to build the neural connections so that when called upon, they have the skills and qualities required to be resilient.

That’s what our RESILIENCE BOOTCAMP (for your kids) is all about- of which you can read more about this here.

So, without further ado, we are going to share with you 10 (unusual) things that you can do right now, today so you can create the family framework that will help turn your child into a resilient one.

This article will deal with the first thing you need to do in order to raise resilient kids, make them aware. Ready?

1. Awareness

You will (as a new honorary member of the Lifehacksforkids Resilient parent club ) be using this series of articles to make some changes and as Psychologist Nathaniel Branden said:

The first step towards change is awareness.

The best way to do that?

Well, it doesn’t get much better than learning straight from the horse’s mouth, so we sat down with our kids and watched the Angela Duckworth Ted talk.

This is a great way to kick start a discussion, it’s important to pause the talk regularly to make sure that it’s sinking in, this will also give them the opportunity to ask questions.

After watching the video, we then set the scene by explaining that because this was an important part of their development, it was our responsibility to help them to develop these skills and as a result, we were going to be doing a few things differently.

Aside from making the kids ‘aware’ we found that there were other benefits too:

Once they understood the importance of what we were doing, we didn’t encounter too much resistance to the new things we tried.

Our minds were now focused on resilience and so funnily enough, we noticed more of what you might call ‘teachable moments’, or real-life opportunities that arose which we used to talk about resilience.

Our kids now had a mental framework that they could use to make sense of what we were saying and doing i.e. it helped the lessons to sink in.

Win-win-win!

growth mindset

You’ll notice that we’ve also embedded Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset Ted talk.

There is quite a bit of overlap between resilience and growth mindset, Duckworth mentions it as a great way to build grit in her talk, in fact.

People who possess a growth mindset are more likely to keep going through failures, whilst those with a fixed mindset, see failure more as a final permanent outcome.

This is exactly the sort of attitude we wish to encourage.

other useful videos/ stuff

The twins are 9 so the Ted talks were fine (with lots of pauses), however, if you have younger kids then we would recommend heading over to classdojo. They have really cool videos explaining Perseverance and Growth Mindset.

A great little video describing the differences between a growth and a fixed mindset.

We would recommend reading both Grit and Mindset, but if you don’t have the time then you could always try the next best thing, a 10 min animated book review.

Here’s a lovely one of Grit by the excellent Productivity Game.

This is a good one of Mindset from Calibrain.

It’s also a really good idea to tell the kids how the brain works and how neural pathways develop. It’s a nice way to explain what’s going on and it also helps those who perhaps lean towards a more fixed mindset, to begin to understand that they can change too. After kissing lots of frogs, we found a few princes:

The brain animation series does a brilliant job of explaining a complex subject and Neuropasticity is the one to watch to help kids understand how the brain can change (both by Sentis).

If your child is older and/or more interested in this area, then this series on the nervous system by the amazing Khan Academy is worth a watch.

don't let up

We would recommend that you watch as many videos with the kids as you can.

We would also recommend watching them several times.

We’ve found that they seem to enjoy processing information in a visual format (at least initially) and it’s important to make sure that they fully understand the subject matter at the beginning as this will help them to make sense of the more complex stuff we are going to ask them to do later on.

We read a great article recently, which highlights that if you take small steps, don’t overload their brains and make sure that the learning has really sunk in, then kids progress much more quickly and enjoy learning more- even in tricky and unglamorous subjects like maths.

connect the dots

Steve Jobs famously said:

Creativity is just connecting things.

We like to do stuff that helps the kids to process what they’ve learned in different ways, we hope that this will help them to ‘connect things’ in the future.

We like art because it helps our kids be creative, express themselves and use their imagination. All of which are vital skills that will help them be economically valuable when they become adults.

So for this experiment, we did some art and we chose to represent what we’d learned about Grit, Growth Mindset and the brain.

Being us, we like to add a twist, so in this instance, we decided to pick an artist each and do our learning summary in their style! We’ve got a Pollock, a Mondrian and a Picasso… some work needed honing our art skills, I think!

next up

If you like this article and want to join in or simply follow our progress, pop your email address in the box below and we’ll put you on our list.

Ok, that’s us done for this week. Next week we’ll show you how to develop an internal family reward system, that will help your kids to become resilient.

Resilient kids aren’t born, they are nurtured and how resilient your children end up will be largely down to the work and effort you put in today.

If you have any thoughts or questions please let us know, dominic @ lifehacksforkids (dot) co.uk we’d love to know how you got on.

Oh and don’t forget our…

For those of you who want to go the extra mile,  we’ve created a RESILIENCE BOOTCAMP (for your kids).

A 12 week programme, in which we harness the best ideas from the worlds of sport, business, science and psychology, that enable your kids to learn and experience how to be RESILIENT.

please share

We really hope that you enjoyed this article and have found it useful, if so, we would really appreciate you sharing it.

Thank you very much, Dominic & Lindsay (the Lifehacksforkids team).

Footnotes

You can help to support our work by buying resources you are interested in at no extra cost to you through the affiliate links below:

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential by Carol Dweck