Reality Check: Resilient Children; Resilient Adults

When things are going well in our lives, it’s easy to feel satisfied, to view ourselves as being effective, and to build good relationships with people.

However, at some point, every one of us will experience a setback, a disappointment, or a loss of some kind. We can try to prevent or foresee these events; but unfortunate things happen that we have no control over. To recover from these inevitable events, it’s helpful to have the quality of resiliency.

To be resilient is to be like a willow in the wind, able to bend when stressed; then bounce back to original form. If resilient children grow up to be resilient adults, then wouldn’t it be helpful if you, as a parent, could help your children become resilient?

In his book, “Take Charge of Your Life,” Dr. Glasser says, “Try as hard as possible to teach, show, and help your children to gain effective control of their own lives.”

When you have “effective control” of your life, you have the resiliency to deal with the controllable and non-controllable aspects of life.

One area where parents can help their children develop resiliency is in their attitudes toward and handling of money.

Sometimes, in families where the parents had little material wealth in their own childhoods, there’s a very strong wish to ensure that the children never want for anything. Mom and dad vow that their kids will not miss out on all the things they didn’t have; their children will never experience the sting of being poor.

It’s wonderful to be able to provide generously for your children. However, if you want them to grow up to be satisfied adults who are in effective control of their lives, offering some insight into handling money will be more valuable to them in the long run than anything you buy.

Children who grow up with the expectation that material things somehow fall into their hands with no effort on their part find themselves in a precarious position as adults, when that tends to no longer happen!

What can you do? Here are two suggestions.

  1. Provide a small allowance, with specific requirements for its use. If you associate the allowance as “pay” for specific chores, your children will also  learn the link between work and money. That’s a handy relationship to understand.
  2. Allow children to experience financial consequences. For example, young Keith got angry and threw his video game in a puddle. It’s ruined. Keith runs home crying…

Now, his parents have a choice. They could rush out to replace the game, and Keith learns that fussing produces results.

Or, they could choose another response; one that associates consequence with action. For example, Keith could be required to do specific chores for a specified length of time to “pay” for a replacement.  Keith learns quite a different lesson.

It’s important that consequences be age-appropriate and doable. It’s unreasonable to require Keith to work for a year for his new game; depending on his age, weeks or months may be appropriate.

Do you think such a response will help Keith become a more resilient adult?

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