Let’s face it: things don’t always work out the way we hope they will. For kids, this might mean receiving a mediocre grade, getting snubbed by a friend, or waiting for a college acceptance letter that never comes. But as one famous saying goes, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” And that’s where resilience comes in.
This month, in honor of spring’s new flowers, we’re focusing on the art of bouncing back. Although kids will inevitably encounter setbacks as they grow up, there are lots of ways parents can help them build coping skills. Check out our tips for encouraging resilience in kids, along with fun cooking and game ideas.
Give up? Never! Here are a few ways to help kids become more resilient.
Ah, the mysterious artichoke. It’s one of spring’s staples, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to cook it. Do you peel it? Chop it? Bounce it against the wall?
Well, not quite. But making artichokes is still super fun, and something kids can do. Our friends at ChopChop Magazine—a publication devoted to nutritious, inexpensive recipes—give a great step-by-step for cooking this delicious spring vegetable.
Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your kitchen gear and ingredients and put them on a clean counter.
Starting with the outside leaves, pull off one leaf at a time, then dip the pale bottom of the leaf in melted butter or salad dressing, and scrape the meaty part off the inside of the leaf with your bottom teeth. You’ll throw away the rest of the leaf, but you can put it in a bowl for now. Do this with all the leaves until you get to the hairy part of the artichoke (known as the “choke”), then use a spoon to scoop out and throw away the fuzzy choke. Cut up the heart and eat it. It’s the best part!
The Art of Resilience. Resilience is a common theme in movies and books. Consider having a movie night during which you choose a film that demonstrates a character overcoming odds or bouncing back. You might watch Rudy, a film about a boy who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles. Or Castaway, about a man who makes the best of being stranded alone on a deserted island. After, discuss the movie and how the characters demonstrated resilience.
For younger kids, you can do something similar with picture books. Here are a few fun recommendations:
One by Kathryn Otashi.
In this sweet story, blue is a nice color who feels blue when red and the other colors pick on him. When no one speaks up, red gets bigger and blue gets smaller until “One” comes along and shows that everyone counts.
How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods by Freymann, Saxton and Joost Elffers
Fun fruits and veggies take on emotions and explore how a smiling friend can cheer you up again. The book offers opportunities for healthy exploration of feelings in different situations and how to deal with both delicious and yucky emotions.
It’s Not Fair! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
The name says it all. This book takes on life’s injustices big and small and emphasizes the idea that you win some, you lose some.
Build a House of Cards
That’s right. Build a house out of playing cards together. This fun activity offers a few simple, old-fashioned lessons in patience, frustration, hope, disappointment, faith, and starting over. If you can’t find a deck of cards, try a puzzle, which can offer the same, rich mix of frustration and satisfaction.
Knowing their family’s history helps kids build self-esteem, which encourages resilience. Often when they hear your stories about facing and overcoming challenges, kids also feel more empowered. Invite your children to interview you during dinner or at another convenient time. In addition to the ideas you’ll find on StoryCorps’ Great Questions List, you can suggest questions such as: What was a challenging time in your life? What did you do? What other hardships did your family or ancestors face? Did you ever do something that really scared you? Then let the stories begin!
Here are a few fun and simple conversation starters to get your family talking about resilience