Heart on a Plate: Part Two

Leza Warkentin mommyinmexico.wordpress.com
Last week I started to write an article about raising resilient children. What I ended up with was an article about how to be a resilient parent so you won’t lose your mind raising resilient children. I gave my favorite analogy of what it’s like being a parent: walking around with your beating heart on a plate, a dagger sitting beside it with a note that says “Be Gentle”.
I thought it would be a one week article, covered in less than 600 words. This was not true, because by the time I had compared the heartrending nature of parenting to clubbing a saber tooth tiger (you had to be there), my word limit had been reached and I hadn’t offered any hope. This seemed unprofessional, so I promised that I would provide some tips on how to keep your club at home while still helping the kids deal with tough situations.
I think we are often unprepared to deal with social problems and our school aged children. We’ve busy just trying to survive sleep training and breastfeeding and the guilt about the disposable diapers. We forget that sooner or later there will be new things to lose sleep over. But the key here is purposeful parenting BEFORE they experience rejection from their peers for having the wrong version of Plants Vs. Zombies. This will provide them with useful tools to deal with the mud-slinging before it begins.
Encourage children to try new things. If they feel confident to meet new challenges on their own, they will have the confidence to overcome rejection or bullying at school.
Help children think positively. Always encourage positive language at home and reframe experiences for them to look at in a positive light. This doesn’t mean ignoring their pain and sadness. However, showing them what can be learned from the situation, and avoiding talk that puts them in the victim’s chair helps them take more control of a situation.
Children need time to play and do what they enjoy. If their lives are overscheduled, they will feel more stress and this hampers their ability to deal with challenging situations.
Allow your child to find his/her talents and interests. Maybe your child isn’t an athlete, and this makes them feel excluded from the majority who are involved in sports. It’s important to show kids that there is always a place where they can shine. This will take some legwork, but it’s more than worth a child’s self-esteem.
If you find your child is being ostracized or bullied, it’s best not to let the situation sit for too long. Talk to the school. And yes, I think we all struggle with not wanting to look like “that parent”, the one that likes to comment about the coolness of the A/C, or seems to have a lot of rather pointed questions about the seating chart. But there are situations that will escalate without intervention. Besides, our children need to know that we are there for them, willing to step in when they really need us, and that we take their happiness and wellbeing very seriously.
Above all, look into your child’s eyes and let them know that you understand how they feel. Tell them a story of the time you had to eat alone at recess because of one lousy egg salad sandwich. Tell them you could never be a cheerleader because you couldn’t do a cartwheel and still can’t.
And then tell them that there came a day where you looked back and realized that those things didn’t matter much anymore. Tell them, finally, that the day will come for them too. But, until then, you are right there beside them, holding your beating heart on a plate.

One comment

  1. My wife did not have much help from her mother, and because my mother was deceased , there could be none from there. However my wife was a very smart person, after being brought up in Texas oil fields, with never a Christmas nor presents, and no birthday parties nor presents there either. Her three girls were to have all that she did not.

    When they learned to walk. she made pretty dresses and placed ribbons in their hair, and marched then along our shopping area. She would rent a park picknic bench and area to have outdoor birthday parties for her girls that included their daughters friends. Every child that attended the parties received a gift.

    Our home was always open for their friends to come over, and there was always freshly baked cooking on the kitchen table available for them. My daughters always knew that here would be a something they liked to eat for them in the refrigerator, when they got home from school … including their mother who would be there waiting for them..

    When they got older and had made friends with boys, we purchased a large pool table and placed it in the downstairs social hall. We may not have liked all the boys , or the noise, but it was safer to have them in our home than our girls in someone else’s home.

    Today some 40 years later, my daughters still have many of the same friends made in the public grade schools. They still attend their parties with their husbands and children. Loretta says … thank God that she did not have boys.

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