Resilience, the most wanted virtue in this modern world?
Resilience or flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking. What is important is the without breaking bit. Translating this into our lives, this would mean adapting ourselves to the situation; any situation. It could be a simple daily situation in life or a complex life-changing event; accepting, learning from the event, and adapting is what makes humans successful or not in life. It could be a major key to one’s happiness.
Why is resilience so important?
The world around us is very dynamic, the world around us offers a plethora of different personalities and being flexible allows us to be dynamic in our minds in order to cope in the dynamic environment without breaking. Being resilient helps us to be in the present; to understand the present situation better and hence to handle it better, without causing adversity to oneself and others. If our mind is not in a stable calm state, any situation can go from bad to worse and be being resilient is what will halt this transition.
For our special children, being flexible might mean the very basics. It will amount to being able to get a haircut at any salon, being able to eat different kinds of food, being able to sleep anywhere, being able to go to any place without worries, being able to be comfortable in one’s own home without any stress. Unless these basics are taken care of and unless they are comfortable in the environment they spend their maximum time in, they will not be able to learn from the environment.
How can we develop resilience in our children?
Developing resilience is a lifelong process. As parents, the first and foremost step would be to get rid of all structure we impose in the lives of our children and then offer diverse experiences. The second would be to offer experiences of diverse personalities.
If we feed a baby monkey only peanuts and then offer bananas when it is an adult monkey, could you expect the monkey to touch the bananas? How would the monkey know to eat any other kind of food if it was exposed to only peanuts all it’s life?Unless we expose our children to dynamic varied situations, how can we expect them to know and understand resilience?
We adults have designed structure in our lives to make our lives more predictable and hence easier to manage, which is why, we want our maids to come on time, we want things to be in exactly the same place in the house, we want our houses to be spic and span always, we want things done a particular way always. We crib about traffic. We complain when there is no power. We get agitated when our food arrives late at the restaurant. In the grand scheme of life, these are actually very minor issues, but we make a big fuss about it and make the whole situation unpleasant and stressful for everyone around us, especially our children.
Providing structure to a child is like cutting the fins of a fish and asking it to swim. How can a child explore and learn if everything is structured around them, if they are not allowed to touch feel sense the way they want, react to situations the way they want and formulate solutions the way they want and see the impact of it?
Being flexible allows our mind to take inputs from the environment and people around us. And that is the only way to learn and grow when we keep our minds open.
Resilience will teach a child that it is okay and not necessary to get whatever I want always. Not getting a candy all the time when a child wants, will allow them to cope up with bigger rejections in life; an end of a relationship or maybe a job loss and in our case as parents, even coping and accepting a diagnosis about our child. Resilience means learning from the adverse situation and process in order to become stronger and better at tackling the next challenge.
Flexibility is one of the main building blocks at Therakeyz; of Poovazhagan’s child development philosophy and I didn’t realize the immense power it has until I implemented it in my life and saw the drastic changes in my state of mind and my children’s.I admit that it was really hard (it was easier for me to top my 12th grade exams), but the simplicity it has brought into my life is unparalleled. The impact it had on my children is tremendous.Becoming flexible helped me also focus more on people, relationships and experiences.
Most of the changes in my child came in the past one year came because of adapting Poovazhagen’s philosophy, and because I became flexible and let my child explore without boundaries and not because I engaged in a super sophisticated intervention for my child.
We can provide opportunities for our children to build resilience by not obstructing, by letting them respond to any type of challenge and by letting them bear the consequences of it. The everyday setbacks our children face, be it not being able to climb onto something, or not being able to eat without spilling should be seen as such learning opportunities and not as matters that we need to quickly teach them so that they do it perfectly well.
So, shall we please become less obsessed and more flexible so that our children, in turn, become resilient and be geared well enough to be able to lead happy satisfied lives?