Saturday, January 1, 2011

Family Resilience

How to Build A Family That Can Survive Anything
As we welcome in the New Year today I'm sitting here reflecting on the year that has passed, and like all of you, I have had ups and downs and tears and laughter. Friends and family too have shared in my joy and my sorrow throughout the past year. Life's journey throws so many things in our path that at times it can be difficult to believe that "it will get better." Emerging from difficult or stressful situations can make us a stronger person in so many ways. I'm a true believer that Resilience plays a big role in determining how we cope with the challenges set for us in this coming year. None of us know what the year ahead brings, but building Family Resilience can provide the safety blanket we may just need.
Family resilience is something I think we all strive for. Once upon a time, setbacks and trauma were thought to leave scars on a family that might never heal. Today, there is a much greater understanding of the growth that comes out of adversity. Although each of our families are unique, it appears that resilient families have some things in common. They communicate clearly and effectively, teach problem-solving, manage conflict well and provide a sense of belonging and non-critical support. Placed in a situation, we are often able to manage more than we think. If you find yourself in a stressful situation in the year ahead try to consider the following tips:
Behaviour Changes
Very young children can pick up on signs that things are not right. In difficult times keep an eye on your child for signs of worry that can't be put into words. If his behaviour changes, he regresses to previous stages, becomes clingy or starts wetting the bed, he may be feeling the pressure. Try using play, art or pretend games to express what he can't.
Pull Together
When things get bumpy the key is to pull together. Use your family as a security blanket for your children and make sure you have family time. It is especially important to have time playing about, playing games, reading to them, or just snuggling down.
Keep Your Routines
You child may be less able to handle change when he is going through a rough time. Keep bed times, reading times, feeding routines as close to normal as possible.
Answer their Questions
Be careful about information overload with your little one.I find a good rule on how much to tell them is to give out the absolute basics and be guided by their questions. Answer them simply and honestly, no matter how off-base they are.
Setbacks Build Strength
We would all like to wrap our kids in cotton wool, but save it for removing your make-up. Giving your child the confidence to overcome small setbacks is the key. Young children who experience something difficult or scary, and have over come this may need reminding of the situation and how brave they were and that they can overcome it again if need be. Being resilient does not mean that children won't experience difficulty or stress. You as the parent can help your child realise that emotional pain and sadness are normal in some situations. Resiliency is about bouncing back, not avoiding emotions.
Don't Forget Fun
Even when things seem really bleak, don't forget to have fun. You may think it is inappropriate to plan something fun or be sill when one of your family are sick or even dying, but the exact opposite is true. Everyone copes better after having a laugh. Fun helps with perspective - that sense that there is a good future beyond the current situation.
Rely On Others
Some situations tax every bit of resilience we have and are too stressful to face alone. Turn to close friend's with whom you can confide in and trust. Accept their offers of support and help.
I truly believe that resilience is within all of us, and that we can emerge from difficult situations stronger than we were before. Resilience is a choice.

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