Every parent has been there before.
You worry that your children won't be resilient enough to survive in the "real world" when they grow up. Will they be able to handle disappointments? Will they develop a can-do attitude? Will they overcome their fears?
To prepare your children for the future, you encourage them to work hard. You try to teach them valuable life skills. But when they meet setbacks, they sometimes falter. Maybe it's a math test they didn't do well on. Or a friendship that fell apart. Or a teacher who said something harsh.
They didn't take it well. They might even have become withdrawn and unmotivated. So you ask yourself...
How can I help my children to become more resilient?
A simple, effective tip for bringing up resilient children.
And the tip is:
Share your challenges and struggles with your children, and explain to them what you're doing to resolve the situation.
This might sound like a strange approach, but it's effective.
I've worked with 15,000 students so far. Ninety five percent of students tell me that their parents rarely talk about the challenges they face or the mistakes they've made. When their parents do talk about their challenges, it's usually just to complain or to vent their frustrations.
As such, these children don't understand what it means to tackle challenges head-on, or to iron out unpleasant situations in a mature, responsible way.
Children need to see real-life examples of this. Who better to lead the way than you?
The key mindset that leads to success.
So talk to your children about your challenges. These include complications at work, interpersonal conflicts, and any important decisions you're about to make. (Of course, if it's an exceptionally serious issue that your children would be better off not knowing about, then please use your discretion.)
Outline the choices you're confronted with. Tell your children how you feel: frustrated, confused, annoyed, hopeful. Explain why you've decided to adopt a positive attitude, and describe how you're proactively resolving the issue. This way, your children will understand that there's always something you can do, no matter how futile the situation might seem.
Your children will cultivate a mindset of "Challenges are to be embraced," rather than "Challenges are to be avoided." They'll take on more challenges, instead of shying away from them.
I'm sure you want your children to be successful. And if there's one thing successful people love, it's challenges!
Three reasons why you might ignore my advice (but why those reasons aren't actually valid).
Right now, you're probably thinking, "Daniel, this sounds good in theory. But I can't bring myself to do it..."
Stop right there. There are three main reasons why parents feel this way. I'll list the reasons one at a time, and explain why they aren't valid.
Reason #1: You're afraid to show your children that you're not perfect.
I have bad news for you. Your children already know you're not perfect. Up until the age of five or six, your children looked up to you as Supermom or Superdad. But that all changed when they saw you tell a lie, use a curse word, or lose your temper.
As your children get older, you'll gain their respect by being humble, not by trying to appear "perfect."
When I was 13, my parents said something to me in anger, which they shouldn't have. I felt hurt and troubled. But 30 minutes later, they apologized to me and asked for my forgiveness.
This incident happened years ago, but it still stands out to me as an example of how wonderful my parents are. Their humility made me respect them more, and taught me to take responsibility for my words and actions. Similarly, when you share your challenges with your children, they'll admire you for your openness and courage.
Reason #2: You're afraid that if you talk about your mistakes, it will give your children the right to make mistakes.
I've got more bad news for you. Your children are going to make mistakes, whether or not you tell them about your mistakes.
But you already knew that. If you share what you've learned from your mistakes, however, your children will become wiser. As they watch you recover from mistakes and setbacks, they'll begin to grasp this truth:
It's impossible to be perfect, but it is possible to pursue excellence. The key to success is to focus on developing and improving, not just on achieving the ideal outcome.
When your children understand this, they'll become more resilient.
Reason #3: It isn't part of your family culture to be vulnerable.
In other words, you'd feel awkward about being so open with your children. But strong relationships are built on trust. And you can't build trust without openness and honesty.
So no matter what your family culture is like today, there's always room to grow.
I'm not asking you to start by confessing to a catastrophic mistake you made that cost your company $10 million. Instead, you could share about something insensitive you said to a friend, but how you made amends. Or about your colleagues who spread untrue rumors about you, but how you kept your cool.
As the saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." So start small, and take it from there -- one day at a time, one conversation at a time.
The bottom line
Raising resilient children is a complex topic, but this article outlines a practical tip you can use right away. I encourage you to talk to your children about the challenges and problems you're dealing with, and what you're doing to overcome them.
Not only will this enable your children to become more resilient, it will also help you to build a stronger relationship with them. It will open up the lines of communication, and set the foundation of a happy, healthy family.
So think about one tiny incident you can share with your children. Decide when and where you'll bring up the topic. Start by doing this once a month, then once every two weeks, then once a week. Soon enough, it'll become a habit.
Don't be surprised when your children start telling you about how they're confidently working through their own challenges!
When the day comes that your children are independent, mature and resilient, you'll beam with pride. But it all begins with being open about your own struggles.
This post originally appeared here.