A few days ago I asked for suggestions on my Facebook page about specific qualities I might post about, and “resilience” was mentioned quite a few times.
Resilience covers so many character traits… because it means that we keep a positive attitude, develop coping skills, and arise to meet challenges with strength and determination to do our best no matter what. Basically being resilient means we take responsibility for our actions, have a healthy outlook on life, and accept ourselves and move forward even after failure, disappointment, or other difficulties. It’s quite a big concept!
So how does one explain “resilience” to children? Find out how I did here:
Outdoors Activity to Learn about Resilience
While taking a walk outside I asked my son to find a small plant. He did, and I asked him what would happen if he grabbed it. He said it would probably get pulled up. Then I asked what about if there was a big storm. He said it might die.
Then I asked him to find a tree and asked the same questions. Of course we discovered the tree could withstand his body weight and would not get damaged by a storm.
So then I asked him if he could choose which to be (a plant or a tree) in a storm, which would he choose to be. He said the tree because it was stronger.
I explained that people are like plants and trees, and we can actually choose how strong we grow. We all will have sun and rain in our lives but, unlike plants which are specific seedlings that grow into pre-determined species, humans can choose what they turn into. We can choose to soak up the sun and let the rain help us grow. We can choose to grow our roots deep in the earth to make us sturdy and strong. We can choose to be a small plant or a sturdy tree.
The sun is the love we receive in this world (God’s love, our parent’s love, whatever you choose!), the rain is the challenges we face, and the roots are our experiences. If we only have love without challenges, we will shrivel up from the heat. If we only have rain and hide from the sun, we will get washed out. But if we have a good balance of sun and rain, then we can learn from our experiences and grow our roots deep into the earth to make us strong and steadfast.
My son, during this conversation, actually tripped (since we were on a walk) and when he got up he said, “I actually meant to do that because the tripping makes me stronger!” I had a little chuckle but it was neat to see how the discussion affected his outlook on his fall. Which led to a conversation about challenges we can sometimes choose… (such as joining a sports team, making new friends, or learning something new)
We also talked about challenges we have (such as little brothers getting into our stuff, having to do chores, and not being allowed to eat junk food) and compared these to sun and rain. The rules I make out of love (such as not shouting) are like sun and the things we cannot control (like other peoples’ behavior) are like rain. Both are just part of life and will help us grow stronger in the end.
After all of this I explained that the tree is “resilient” because of all its qualities to withstand challenges and grow despite the weather around it. And that when we choose to act like the tree, we can be resilient too.
Are you resilient? Do you model a positive outlook on life and a determination to learn from challenges to your children?
Feel free to share your experiences with this activity and/or any variations you came up with. Links to related activities or to your post that links here, are most welcome also.
Thanks for your feedback – I appreciate all your comments!
What a great way to start a discussion on resiliency. We have used “the great outdoors” to tackle so many different topics. Amazing what we can learn from the world around us when we actually take the time for walks 😉 Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the comment Liz and I totally agree – nature is absolutely amazing and there are so many ways to learn about life and reality through its examples. Getting outside often (regardless of the weather) is definitely worth it when we make the effort!
Sheila @ Pennies of Time
What a lovely way to have a direct conversation about resiliency! (something even adults struggle with) Thank you for your example. I am adding this discussion to our next nature walk. Thanks for visiting Magic Moments Monday!
Yay so glad you are going to try it! Would love to hear how it goes and how your kids respond, it’s amazing the insights and questions they bring. Thanks for visiting and for the comment!
What a lovely message and a great way to give an understanding of resilience! Thank you for sharing!!
Thanks for the comment, Laura!
What a wonderful lesson. I love that even the youngest children could comprehend this beautiful analogy. Thanks so much for sharing on Magic Moments Monday!
Thanks for commenting Jessica and I’m looking forward to seeing all the lovely posts for Magic Moments Monday!
I just wanted to let you know that I will be featuring your post on our next Magic Moments Monday. Thanks again for linking up!
Thanks Jessica I’m honored you’ll be including my post! Looking forward to catching up on all the lovely posts linked up 🙂
Kz and Me
This is such a simple, relevant way to teach resilience. I love the reaction after he tripped. Thanks for sharing! xo Krissy
Yes it was pretty funny – it’s pretty typical of him to turn mistakes into things he did on purpose he he he. Thanks for stopping by!
Very nice way of sharing resiliency with children. Great analogy! Having two little siblings, my almost five year old finds it challenging to be positive about little disagreements that she has with her two and a half year old sis. I look forward to sharing this wonderful analogy with her. Thanks Chels!:)
Thanks Susan! 🙂
I absolutely love this lesson on resilience. I will be doing it with my 5 year old very soon. Thank you for sharing!
I just love your approach to encouraging resilience amongst children, its such a refreshing change from the stereotype we have of American Moms molly-coddling their kids to death. I say ‘encourage’ because from my experience that’s the best way of imparting resilience, let your kids learn from your good example and their own experiences, let them solve their own problems and most importantly, encourage their inquisitiveness. Let them experience nature and realise how beautiful yet savage the world can be, how resilience will allow us to enjoy the best and avoid or handle the worst of it and that some of the best things in life are free.
I grew up in the bombed out ruins of London, I was nine years old when I learned that a ‘debris’ wasn’t a playground. We had nothing, our parents had nothing, the country was broke but we had everything because we learned to survive by solving our own problems with the support, examples and love of our parents. Food was short so my Dad obtained six chickens to feed on kitchen and garden waste. Vegetables came from the garden boosted by the chicken poo. Those eggs were the most negotiable currency of that time. I remember getting a pair of second hand school shoes in one deal. Our parents taught us life skills and resilience by example. A family treat was a bus ride out to the countryside where we would have a picnic of thermos tea and jam sandwiches and we would pick berries and mushrooms from the woods and hedgerows. I still remember those experiences better than any Disneyland treat.
My Mom made and repaired all our clothes including my school uniform. We lived a few miles from school, there was no bus route and virtually no-one owned a car. If I didn’t keep my old bike in running order and fix it when it broke, I walked to school come rain, shine or snow, it was my choice. My Dad may have shown me how to fix things but then it was up to me, he worked too late for night mechanics. This was one of many of my best lessons in resilience; i.e. responsibility, solutions and consequences.
I left home at fifteen to attend a farming school and work on farms. Prior to five years of army experience, at the age of 17 despite all the forebodings of relatives, I went alone to Denmark to work and study. Little did I know that this move would sow the seed for the rest of my life . I am 72 now and live in Australia where many years ago with my then new wife of equally but different resilience forming background (who is still my beautiful life partner after 46 years) we arrived without jobs, long term accommodation or much money but our resilience helped us to find an apartment and jobs within three days. My wife and I have travelled and worked around the world including nine years behind the old Iron Curtain; we rebuilt a yacht and sailed the barrier Reef and islands for nearly two years; we drove 25,000km around Australia in an old mini-bus. The resilience we learned as children and built on throughout our lives has enabled us to travel and enjoy the world and its people with a high degree of confidence. There are many times we could have fallen apart but when you’re resilient there is no option but to soldier on.
So free your kids to learn themselves how to handle life’s ups and downs. Give them guidance and suggest options but don’t live their lives for them or anticipate every possible danger. Learning life’s skills will help them avoid, cope or exploit life’s dangers and they need to be equipped to cope with challenges that you will never see!
I absolutly loved this and used the character traits for a holiday program.