On Monday, before 2pm, when lockdown was still just a possibility, nearly everyone I ran into remarked, "Well, you must be ready for this - you're not worried are you?", or some similar variation.
I guess I give off a "prepper" vibe. I'll take it as a compliment.
While I really had no idea if our household was in fact ready for a lockdown, it's true, I wasn't worried.
I wasn't worried because in our family we have made resilience a priority.
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When thinking of the future, some parents want their children to be happy. Others want their children to be successful. My husband and I have always said that we want our children to be resilient.
For us this includes adaptability, perseverance, problem solving and grit. We have long recognised that the world our children will grow up in is not the world that we grew up in, and feel like it is our job to prepare them to face a future that is unknown.
But resiliency seems to be directly opposed to the priorities of today's society. So how do we raise resilient kids in a society where comfort, instant gratification, and appearances are valued above all else?
Firstly, I believe it starts when we expect (and encourage) our children to do difficult things.
My daughter has an impressive list of achievements under her belt for a 7-year-old. She can do her own laundry, make scrambled eggs, make fire with flint and steel, pluck and gut a chicken.
She can do these things because we have trusted her to give them a go. She can do these things because we place high expectations on her, expectations in line with her personal capabilities, and support her to reach those expectations.
At 7 years old I don't expect her to do these things for herself all the time, but I know that she could. And more importantly she knows that she could. That belief in herself gives her a sense of power and control when things in her world feel out of control.
It is for this reason that I try to resist the temptation to do things for my kids that they can do themselves.
Let's think about breakfast for a minute. Is it easier for me to pour my 4-year-old's milk in the morning? Yes. Of course. Will I do it more quickly and neatly than he does? Yes again. Most definitely. But when I pour the milk for him every day all I am teaching him is that mom pours the milk really well. I am teaching him that I am "Mom the expert milk-pourer" who can be trusted with milk.
When I allow him to pour the milk for himself he is learning that I trust him, that he is capable of doing hard things, and that it's not the end of the world if he makes mistakes.
Secondly, we need to ask kids questions instead of giving them answers.
My son asks approximately 9000 questions a day. I try to answer about half of them, if that. I'm not doing it to be mean, really.
Just like how pouring the milk for the cereal every morning causes my son to view me as "Super mom – expert milk-pourer", answering his never-ending stream of questions makes him view me as "Super mom- expert question answerer – holder of all knowledge".
But I don't want to be the holder of all knowledge. I am aiming to raise resilient children, who will become resilient adults. I want them to see themselves as question answerers. I want them to know that they have the ability to make observations, research, experiment, and ultimately find answers to their own questions.
So I often say, "I don't know, what do you think?". (Sidenote: my son doesn't fall for this any more and now tells me to "Just make a good guess then mama". Touché.)
This leads me to my third thought. We can't be afraid to allow our children to go without.
Many of us parents feel obliged to give our children everything we can, as soon as we can - whether we are talking about answers to questions, favourite breakfast cereals or birthday presents.
Adaptability and the ability to "do without" are traits lost in an era of online shopping and overnight delivery. We can help children develop their capacity to withstand hardship by allowing them to practise the skills of patience and flexibility in small ways daily. So basically, when you realise that you are out of Ricies at 9pm, don't run to the store. Stay at home and watch Netflix. You are building resiliency.
Finally, a piece of advice for those of us feeling overwhelmed by the Covid-19 lockdown. One of the best ways to build resiliency is to learn a new skill. So when your child comes to you with a big question, a big worry or a big fear, sit down and figure out a way to tackle it together.
Are you worried about running out of toilet paper? Sit with your child and research bum-friendly native plants. Feeling tense about the lack of bread in supermarkets? Work together to bake a loaf or two. Wondering when The Warehouse will open again? Try working together to mend a pair of jeans or socks. Think of all the new skills we could be learning over the next four weeks.
When we work alongside our children to learn new skills we show them that learning is fun. We show them that when you put in good effort you can get a good result. We show them that they have the power to change things happening around them. And that is what resilience is all about.