Kids face a variety of “mini-disasters” every day as they walk out the door to face the world. Without warning, they may be confronted by dangerous people and situations. Our job, as adults, is to create resilience in them so that no matter what life throws their way, they will have the ability to face the challenge and land on their feet.
How do we create disaster resilient children who can conquer the unique challenges in this world? The process is simple but time intensive. Children will become better able to cope with difficult challenges when you follow these simple steps:
- Empower them with knowledge
- Teach children basic skills and to love work
- Nurture confidence
- Limit screen time
There is nothing simple about raising children who are resilient to life’s challenges. It takes intentional hard work, consistency, and creativity. The reward is worth every effort.
Steps to Creating Disaster Resilient Children
I have had significant experience raising children (8 children and 3 step-children) and I have 15 grandkids at the time of this post. I have a degree is in marriage, family, and human development. That means that I should know it all … right? Wrong! I’ve made a ton of mistakes but I understand what works and what doesn’t work. These steps are your best bet for raising resilient kids that will be able to conquer the tough challenges that life will surely bring to them.
Develop a family emergency plan together, then practice it. Evaluate it together and discuss what went right and where you can improve, then physically practice it together again. Teach kids how to plan, execute, evaluate and improve.
Help your children to develop a playbook that will help them understand what to do when they are faced with tough situations in everyday life. These are plays that have been designed to make sure that your child knows exactly what to do. School lockdowns are an example of the schools developing plays and teaching the kids exactly how to respond to a gunman in the school.
Play the “What If and What Then” game regularly. What if there was an earthquake right now? What would I do after the shaking stopped? Train children to play various scenarios out in their mind where they face a threat and are always successful in defeating the threat. Be positive, guide them, and praise them. This simple exercise trains their brain to spring into action during a real crisis.
Have the courage to face the tough scenarios. Model a realistic, but positive attitude. What if Mom and Dad were killed in the earthquake? Then I will go live with Aunt Suzie. I will miss them, but I will be okay.
2. Teach Children Basic Skills and to Love Work
Teach children to enjoy hard work by regularly working together. The ability to enjoy working is a skill that will be a blessing to them throughout their lives. Your positive fun attitude will make all the difference.
Provide opportunities to develop self-reliance skills such as; self-defense, water disinfection, safe sanitation practices, map reading, expedient shelter construction, gardening, food preservation, cooking healthy foods from scratch and financial management.
Model self-reliance and provident living in your everyday life. What you do will be remembered long after the words you say have been forgotten.
Teach children to serve others and sacrifice for the greater good. It is interesting to note that in concentration camps those who were selfless and showed love and served others had higher rates of survival.
3. Nurture Confidence
Be your child’s biggest fan and truly believe that they have the power to succeed. You give them an amazing ability to believe in themselves when they understand that you honestly believe that they can do anything.
Provide mastery experiences for kids. Give them opportunities to succeed at difficult tasks. For instance; climb with them to the peak of a mountain. When they are tired, cold and ready to give up, encourage them, but don’t let them quit. Future challenges in life are then compared to this mastery experience. I made it to the top of that mountain, surely I can … (name the challenge). I am bigger than any challenge. I can do this!
Promote faith, not fear in your words and actions. Talk through doubts and fears. It is okay to admit that you are afraid. Courage is being afraid and yet still accomplishing the important task or objective. Acknowledge that it may be rough, but he/she can do hard things.
Foster independence while nurturing a love for others and a desire to make the world a better place because they are in it. Give your child as much independence as is appropriate for their age and abilities. Too much independence may result in failure and low self-esteem. Too little independence will inhibit growth.
Celebrate successes and use failures only as learning opportunities. Help your child learn to see failure as an opportunity to succeed in the future.
Video games and television should be kept to a minimum. Excessive time on devices is damaging to developing minds and interferes with healthy relationship development.
Replace screen time with real-life adventures. Help them explore their world. Teach children how to find answers to their questions and take their knowledge to the next level.
Encourage face-to-face interactions and limit texting as a primary form of family communication. Do not allow devices or phones in children’s bedrooms. They interfere with healthy sleep patterns.
Disaster resilient kids are created through thoughtful and proactive parenting. Nothing takes the place of being an active part of your child’s life. You have a great opportunity to influence your children as well as their friends.
Disaster resilient children grow up to be happy, productive members of society. Teach them important values of self-reliance and provident living. We have challenging times ahead of us and your children need to be ready to face those challenges.