Happiness Is The Result, Not The Goal
When I ask parents what they most want for their kids, the number one answer is, I just want them to be happy. There's nothing wrong with that! As a Life Coach, however, what I want for your kids is a powerhouse skill that can determine their overall well-being, success, and happiness. What is this superpower? It's Resilience.
I don't have children, but what I do have are coaching clients at various stages and ages, that are learning to think and live with resiliency. This skill set, which I explored in my blog, What do Rocky, A Cancer Survivor, and a Kindergarten Teacher All Have in Common, is essential to moving through life with greater ease, health, and better relationships. This is what I most hope for your kids.
You build this skill by allowing them to face the realities of life. Do not placate, silver line, or protect them from disappointment, failure, heartache, and all the other challenges that come from circling the sun.
The job of a parent is to protect and nurture, but also to prepare them.
Prepare them to create happiness, not look for it. Prepare them to learn from challenges, so they develop confidence. Prepare them with the knowledge that life isn’t fair and that they won't always feel happy, be right, or reach success.
Resilience is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
How can you cultivate it?
1. Teach them Realistic Optimism. Optimism: this challenge will pass, reminding them they have the emotional awareness and the skills to handle it. Realistic: life is sometimes hard, things are not always fair and everything doesn't always work out.
2. Let them have their feelings. Let them be disappointed or hurt. Don't immediately try to fix it. Your job is to teach them how to care for their feelings and make healthy decisions and choices. Show them empathy and teach them how to express what they're feeling.
3. Step in, Don’t Step in. Emotional researchers call this scaffolding. This is the framework that your child learns or grows from. You offer to demonstrate a skill, give instruction verbally, or assist if needed, but they take the action and give it a go. This allows the child to build confidence in themselves and trust in you. This works two folds: they learn that they can take on challenges and they know they can reach out for help, without judgment. Resilience isn’t about doing it alone. It’s about knowing how to handle the stressors and challenges in a proactive way and looking for the right support and solutions.
4. Create a structure to help them succeed. This doesn't mean rescuing or doing it for them. Don’t jump in and do the essay for them, but don’t sit back and allow them to fail over and over. Instead, suggest a homework schedule, review time, and support them in outlining ideas. Over time you're teaching them how to handle external pressures and build trust that they can navigate stress.
5. Do not reward hard choices with stuff. Instead, encourage them when things are difficult and give specific feedback and praise on who they're being, not just what they did. I hope you feel really good about your performance tonight, you committed to practicing that piece. How does that feel?
6. Be an example. Let them see you try new things, fail and succeed, learn from, and try again. Healthily express your feelings and show them how you care for yourself through setbacks. You are lighting the way and providing a roadmap that they can carry with them throughout their life.
Resilience is a skill that will empower your kids to perceive adversities as ‘temporary’ and to keep evolving through the pain and suffering. Stress and setbacks will play a part in their story, but won't overtake their story, their identity, or their power to choose. Now that's something to feel happy about.
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