Hi All and welcome to my blog. If this is your first visit, please go back and read my other blogs as these are part of a series on raising resilient children in these busy times. I was inspired to write these blogs by a fabulous book I read by Maggie Dent (aka My Hero hehehe) titled “Real Kids In an Unreal World.”

This months instalment;

Self-mastery …………What on earth does that mean, and why is it considered a key element of resilience?

Encouraging children to become self-sufficient and independent helps them to build their self-worth and value within their community/ family. After all, we want our kids to learn how to navigate through life successfully, not keep having to rely on their parents to resolve things for them. That’d be embarrassing when you’re 32!!!! :)

For myself, “I’m capable” is one of the greatest feelings I experience. I know that when I feel capable there is no way that I feel like a failure at anything at that time.

Is it the same for you? Is it the same for children?

Oh, imagine feeling like that all the time!!!! I know that’s not realistic for adults or children. But, if we were to help children to create those “I’m capable” moments often, then they would be willing to tackle things in life with confidence and to deal with and learn from the mistakes if they don’t work out.

Fun fact: From as early as two years of age, simple social and practical skills can be learned, leading to strengthened coping skills and build on a child’s sense of self.

Just so we’re clear, this does not mean that they can master tasks they are given straight away. Mastering most tasks whether you are an adult or child can take patience and practice. I believe these are the two very important words when it comes to helping our kids learn self-mastery.

Children will most likely need many repeated attempts at tasks as the plasticity of their brain takes time to wire new learning. Adults often need many attempts at a new task too, until it ‘sets’.

I remember when my children showed interest in cooking or gardening or washing the car, I really had to pull my “patience hat” firmly on my head. We all know it’s easier and faster to do it ourselves, but it’s vital to grab these opportunities when our children express interest because that interest can soon fade and we’ve missed the boat to teach them something new. We’ve also missed a beautiful opportunity to "‘hang out’ together and do something fun. We also know that it’s a much nicer experience (and more fun) learning something when we’re interested in it. Apparently the window is around 5 - 9 years of age when they love to help.

Maggie Dent writes that “hands-on experience is the best teacher for children”. I know this is true for me. Things “stick” in my brain much more easily if I do rather than watch.

Some key points to remember:

  • No one person is excellent at everything (Adult or child). We are each born with our own unique gifts and talents. Focus on the things that your child is capable of doing and help them to make the most of that. (Huge “Self” moment for them)

  • Allowing kids to experience failure and conflict will help them to develop the strategies needed to overcome these later in life

  • Small things are the big things - buttons, shoelaces, blowing noses successfully, mastering cutlery, cleaning teeth, blowing candles out, riding bikes and climbing trees to name a few

  • Patience and Practice (see above)

  • Seek and encourage unique qualities and strengths in each sibling

  • Mastery in real tasks like doing regular chores, making lunches, fixing things with Mum and Dad, cooking, painting and even changing light bulbs helps children to feel confident and competent.

  • Teach your kids some basic first aid

  • Teach your kids to make their own healthy snacks

  • Teach them road rules while you’re out walking or bike riding

  • Encourage and acknowledge more than you praise

  • Being able to express themselves and be heard are very important in gaining self-mastery

With regards to that last point. Us, as parents, being present truly allows our children to be heard. Here’s a few examples;

“Let me put this down so I can give you my full attention.”

“Wait a second while I turn off the TV/ radio/ computer so I can really hear you.”

“Did you do this all by yourself?”

“That must have been hard/ easy/ challenging for you!”

“Tell me when you would like me to help you.”

“Sometimes things just don’t work out, and other times they do. This happens for grown-ups too.”

“Mistakes can teach us important things. What can you learn from this?”

“Try another way to solve this.”

Remember, less is more as far as coming to our kids rescue. Give them chances to do things themselves and bask in the pride you’ll feel on their behalf when they master something.

“It’ is natural for parents to wish to insulate their children, to reduce the adversity, risk or stresses they may face. On the other hand too much protection, support or insulation may deprive children of opportunities to learn to deal with mistakes in affirmative, self-esteem enhancing ways.”

  • Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, Raising Resilient Children (2001)

On a lighter note, here’s a little something that’s been widely published on the internet.

10 Great Truths about Life that Little Children have Learned

  1. No matter how hard you try, you cannot baptise cats.

  2. When you Mum is mad at your Dad, don’t let her brush your hair.

  3. If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. They always catch the second person. (My childhood!!!)

  4. Never ask your three year old brother to hold a tomato.

  5. You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.

  6. Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

  7. Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.

  8. You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

  9. Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.

  10. The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandpa’s lap.

I’d like to finish this blog quoting Maggie Dent from her book mentioned earlier; “Our children do not need for us to be perfect, just real and able to own life’s little moments when they appear as they are, not as they could be.”

Well, that’s it for now. Thanks so much for being here with me. My next blog is the last in the series titled ‘Strengthen the spirit’. Join me please!

Also, a little reminder that bookings are open for my Peaceful Kids Program for Term 3. Use my Contact link below to book.

Until then……… :)

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I love helping families feel happier! If you would like to chat about how I can help you, follow this link to my “Contact Me” page.

This piece is written with the intention of helping parents create happier and more resilient children and is subject to copyright. Please contact the author if you wish to publish elsewhere.