A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children
When it comes to parenting, being brave equals letting go, according to social worker Krissy Pozatek. She writes that “many parents are busy cushioning their children from any discomfort.” Pozatek invokes the Buddhist philosophy of “making our own moccasins” to protect our feet on the path of life rather than “laying down leather wherever we step so we don’t cut our feet.” Writes the author, “Leather laying makes our children more dependent and less resourceful and impedes their emotional maturation process.”
Pozatek brings her experience working in adolescent wilderness-therapy programs to bear in a book that is as much about tough love for parents as it is for children. She advises parents to allow kids to feel because “Struggle is not something to cover up or get rid of.” She encourages reflective listening, setting limits to make children feel safe, allowing children to experience consequences, and letting children do their own problem solving. All of this advice is meted out in text that gently but firmly guides parents away from living their children’s lives and toward enabling their children’s independence.
To illustrate her key points, Pozatek uses anecdotes about parents and children shaped by her own experience as a therapist. The exercises she recommends, such as free writing in a journal, are designed to help suppress any parental insecurities. Some parents may not feel entirely comfortable advising rather than sheltering their children, but Pozatek’s compassionate, mature way of examining contemporary parental behaviors—and demonstrating the positive payback of remaining objective—should ease parents’ concerns and help them master “brave parenting.”
Reviewed by Barry Silverstein, February 27, 2014 http://www.forewordreviews.com
This list of books was found in the following article: Using books to foster resilience in young children by Karen Petty, a professional of early childhood development.
Opportunities to participate and contribute
Use the story Tico and the Golden Wings by Leo Lionni (2007) to assist children in thinking about participation in a community and how, by making contributions, we can become stronger as individuals and as a group. In this parable, a little bird who is born without wings is granted a wish and receives golden wings, which turns the other birds against him. As he flies over the earth and sees someone in need, he gives away a golden feather; in its place, anew black feather grows. This process continues until he looks like other birds. Tico realizes that giving to others is as important as having wings for himself. Contributing to a cause greater than ourselves is huge protective factor and one that we can begin teaching early. Look for ways that the children in your care can share their time (helping one another), their abilities (painting pictures for a local home for the elderly), and their resources (bringing canned food for a local food pantry or shelter). Ask open-ended questions such as: “Why did Tico give away his feathers?” “How can we participate with others in our classroom or community”? Ask children to think of ways to help others in the school or community. Make a Tico board by providing feathers and have children place them on the board whenever they contribute to their community.
Coping and patience
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (2000) can be used to develop coping skills when children are separated from someone they love by showing them that even though they are separated, they can still be connected ban invisible string. Whenever the child thinks about the separation, the invisible string gives a tug to remind the child of a continuing connection even though the child can’t see the loved one. Use maps to locate loved ones around the world or even across town. Tape a piece of string between the child and the loved one to provide a visual of the connection. Children can also learn ways to develop or practice patience as they wait for a loved one to return. I often use an invisible patience button with young children when waiting in line or for a turn. I draw invisible circle on the arm (and mine as well) and push it to activate our patience. Then we think of things to do while we wait.
Pass It On by Marilyn Sadler (2012) tells the story of a cow who gets stuck in the fence and her barnyard friends who take a while to rescue her. As they pass on the message about Cow, there is much miscommunication among the animals. In the end, the animals help Cow to get unstuck from the fence by working together. Lead a discussion about how Cow must have felt as she waited for help to come. Ask for other ways that Bee could have helped Cow out of the fence. Have the children think of times when they have been stuck or placed in a situation where they could not do something without the help of others. How does it feel to help others?
Stop Picking on Me by Pat Thomas (2000) introduces the concept of making boundaries when someone mistreats us.
Use this book to open a discussion about how it feels to be picked on and ways to set boundaries (visible and invisible). Teach nonviolent ways to maintain one’s personal space while respecting the personal space of others, using verbal and nonverbal methods. After reading the book, use the characters to discuss appropriate treatment of others by having children assume the roles of the characters in the book. Hula hoops are good visual objects to illustrate the boundaries that we need to keep us resilient. Place several on the floor and allow the characters in the book to stand inside them. Next, have the children practice stating their needs. Some examples: “I need for you to respect my boundaries.” “Say kind words to me.” “Be my friend.” You can also use images such as imaginary bubbles. Pretend that we are all in our own bubbles and that bubble space is necessary to help us learn about boundaries. Ask questions such as these: “How much space does your bubble need?” “If you float into someone else, what is the right thing to do?” “How can we protect everyone’s boundaries without the bubbles?”
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
Wonder is a rare gem of a novel – beautifully written and populated by characters who linger in your memory and heart. August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. Home-schooled all his life, August heads to public school for fifth grade and he is not the only one changed by the experience – something we learn about first-hand through the narratives of those who orbit his world. August’s internal dialogue and interactions with students and family ring true, and though remarkably courageous he comes across as a sweet, funny boy who wants the same things others want: friendship, understanding, and the freedom to be himself. One of the best children’s books dealing with adversity that we’ve come across.
Out of my mind by Sharon Draper
Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school — but no one knows it. Most people – her teachers and doctors included – don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it… somehow. Reminiscent of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability. Sharon Draper has written one of the more uplifting children’s books dealing with adversity.