Dynamic Intelligence (D.I.) is the way we learn to solve real-world problems, conduct ongoing relationships and negotiate the continually changing stream of life
– Dr Steve Gutstein, Founder, RDI Connect
We also need one more thing.
The dictionary meaning of resilience is- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
The question is- Can we as parents (or teachers) work on building resilience in our children?
If yes, how to build resilience?
On deep reflection, I came up with the following points.
1. Change in parental mindset
I want my child to have everything I didn’t.
I’ve commonly heard parents say this. How many times have we ourselves said it? I certainly have.
This applies to all children – neurotypical and non neurotypical.
This thought process, where we don’t let children feel the lack of anything, puts them in a kind of bubble.
What if we don’t or can’t give them everything?
When I think of my childhood, I had to share with my siblings and cousins.
And sometimes, there wasn’t enough for each of us. We learned a big lesson – adjustment.
And we were happy.
Also, the COVID situation has taught us what and how much we really need.
2. Don’t Over praise
“You are the best.” “Nobody comes even close to you.”
I’ve seen many mothers praising their children to the skies.
This becomes the narrative of their life.
Especially the ’nobody even comes close to you.’
Comparison and envy flow from this mindset.
It plays havoc in the child’s life- later on.
Life is impartial.
Someone else might win. Somebody else might do better.
It is important for every child to learn this.
3. Let them face failure
Failure teaches more than success.
Failure teaches us to stand up again, despite the feeling of being a loser.
It forces us to try harder.
But we compensate. Get that tuition teacher, help them with projects so they get an A.
We don’t let them take responsibility.
And then we complain that they don’t grow up.
Facing failure and standing up after failure, teaches responsibility.
4. Let them struggle
When we don’t let children struggle, we take away a lot from them.
Look at how this boy, Sam, struggled with his bike.
Such activities are lessons in life and living.
A tough boss, inadequate pay, teaches them how to deal with such situations in life. Can they face it?
Or will they quit?
Struggle is important for our bodies and souls. It helps our qualities shine forth.
Let your child struggle.
5. Let them be ordinary
We’re big on ‘you’re so special.’
Why not let children feel the joy of being ordinary.
Some parents of autistic individuals ask, “but my child does not have any special talent.”
That’s fine. Beauty is found in the ordinary and mundane too.
In typically developing children, inflated egos and arrogance are a recipe for disaster. This feeling of being the ‘best’ or ‘better than anyone’ could cause havoc.
Everyone is different and everyone has their own strengths.
Knowing this, takes away from envy and the feeling of being one up on another.
It’s our job to teach our children to praise and acknowledge another’s strengths.
6. Social Media use
It’s important to create a balance while using social media.
It’s easy to get carried away by facebook and instagram posts.
It’s not a real world out there, but all children cannot discern.
At times, even neuro typical adults find it difficult.
Here’s another problem that may arise. (From an autistic individual’s perspective)
When we over “like” or “comment” on too many pictures or posts of the same person that person may eventually begin to feel uncomfortable. So how much is too much? What is the magic number of “likes” or “comments” before we’ve crossed the line? Unfortunately there is no magic number which perpetuates the difficulties of our unspoken social expectations of appropriateness.
Life can only be polished in day to day interactions with real people.
Balance is the key.
Less is more.
Do less so that your child does more.
This pandemic has shown us what we really need. How we can survive with much less than we thought.
It’s time to learn to empower our children how to live in this world and navigate it effectively.
They need to be resilient so they can face life head on.
At the beginning of this year, we would have never thought the COVID pandemic would create our lockdown state of life.
Who knows what the next change will be?
Let’s equip our children with Resilience.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.