Permaculture in Action

Friday, March 14, 2014


Resilience is a word we hear used in many contexts. Resilient communities and resilient food systems just to name a couple. But have you heard about building resilience in your children.? Over on  Creative With Kids,   Chelsea Lee talks about just that.

........ if we want our children to stand up to the inevitable challenges they will face in the future and keep going despite disappointment or frustration, we need to help our children develop resilience.  This means they need to practice coping skills, and therefore need some challenges to practice these skills with.

Chelsea lists 25 everyday ideas to teach kids resilience. I look back on my parenting and realise, that although I practised many of these things, I was very much caught up in making life easy for my children. I would find that I got more caught up in their squabbles with friends than they did. And while I was busy trying to work them out they had left that particular problem behind, having sorted it out themselves. I now understand that the role of the parent is not about making our children's life happy but showing them the skills that will help them become  healthy, well adjusted adults. I know on one level I did know this as a parent of young children but I don't think I really knew it.

I hear parents now arguing that they just want their children to be happy. They will do anything they can possibly do to bring that about. Showering them with gifts, giving into their every demand, treating them like adults by allowing them to engage in adult conversations, allowing them to watch TV programms with adult content, dressing them in adult style clothing, investing a lot of time in taxiing them to various activities. The list goes on, I'm sure you understand.

A book that I have recently read called The Good Life by Hugh Mackay looks at these very issues. Is the pursuit of happiness insulating us from living a good life. Are we setting our children up for failure by this desire to make them feel always happy and good about themselves. What happens when they are in a situation and they realise that they are not as wonderful as their parents made them out to be. In fact that they are selfish, self absorbed individuals with a highly inflated image of themselves. In his book Hugh looks at ways of diverting us from this path through living a life that brings a sense of deep satisfaction, through selflessness, the quality of our relationships and our willingness to connect with others in a useful way. 

This fits in rather well with the idea of building resilience in our children as Chelsea outlines. What do you think?


  1. Oh mum, it frustrates me as you know that so many parents today cant see all this. Parents were never supposed to be their childrens friends and yet these days its like if your child hates you for even a second its the end of the world.
    What are we setting them up for?
    Thankyou for posting about this. If it changes just one parents veiw on how they're raising their children it will be wonderful.
    Love rhonnie

  2. Thanks for the link, it's a good list. A lot of these things require a bit more thinking and effort because they're not our first instinctive reactions as parents and in busy moments. A good reminder.

  3. I agree with you wholeheartedly , Kate. I think that we are going to have alot of young adults out there very soon who have never lost a party game, always been given a prize on sports day and they will be stomping their feet when they find out that life isn't actually like that. Our highschool principal has a wonderful saying at the beginning of the year where he says ,'Just remember you are their parents , not their friends.' - it is kind of difficult to comprehend that as a mum sometimes but there have been occasions where the advice has given me the strength to say 'no' to things at times when I do wish I could say 'yes ' to everything.

  4. Yes, I think this too, Kate! As a parent of a nine- and a ten-year-old, I'm often told by my kids that their friends are allowed things we don't let them do or have, such as watching adult-content films or having things in their lunchboxes that I believe are totally inappropriate for growing bodies. Anyway, they are used to hearing 'no' (and used to being the odd ones out with their lunchboxes!), but I'm always happy to explain why. I want them to be resilient, to understand that other people's needs matter, that being kind is really important, that looking after themselves, their things and the environment is important, and so on... It's not easy being a parent but I do think it's important to be a 'parent', kids need parents, not more 'friends'! Thanks for link. It's a good list! And for the reminder about Hugh Mackay's book. I borrowed it last week and am so enjoying his words of wisdom! Fiona

  5. Yes, yes, yes! I know a mum who does everything for her son and despairs at his tantrums and bad behaviour. It is frustrating to watch her 'help' creating lifelong problems for her son. Mind you, I'm guilty of interfering in squabbles! I do it all the time.