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Resilience – we all need it

Resilience – we all need it

Recently I have been working with parent communities on how to build the resilience of our children to facilitate them being able to persist in the face of challenge and experience that big hit of pride when they are successful. We talk about the notion that resilience is built through having opportunities to stick at something that is challenging and worthwhile.

Through our discussions a surprising realisation has come about…the grown-ups need some resilience about letting children and young people struggle and, even fail in order to develop resilience.


I think we all know that resilience is something that we need for life. We understand that it takes time to develop and yet, we struggle with letting it happen. What does it look like when we struggle?


Let’s say my young one, teenager or younger, is trying to complete a task that I am familiar with, peeling potatoes. A simple task, right? It is simple for me because I have done it a hundred and fifty thousand times over the years but for my young one? Not so simple. I hand him the peeler, the potato and, share some ‘years of wisdom and practice’ instructions. Easy, I think. Easy, he thinks. Then it begins.


I watch his hands as they grapple with how to hold the potato, how to hold the peeler. As he decides which hand the potato should be held in, he picks up the peeler and moves them around, checking to see if it feels right. He puts down the potato and swaps the peeler into his other hand, picks up the potato, no that doesn’t feel right, puts them both down. Picks up the potato with the other hand and the peeler, moves the peeler over the potato, nope. Doesn’t feel right. Puts them down.

Me. Screaming. Inside, how is it this hard? Come on mate, I know you’ve got this. You’ve picked them both up, now just start peeling. Come ONNNNNNN!


What’s our go to here? Out of pure impatience and frustration, ‘Here mate, I’ll do it’. My unintended messaging? Give up. It is too hard for you. What does he hear? Mum doesn’t think I can do it. I must be an idiot. The result? A parent that rescues a child and robs them of an opportunity to grow and a young person who believes they are incapable of completing a new task. It is a lose-lose.


A win-win is a better result. Set up some tasks that are achievable with effort and support. Let them struggle through, no matter how many challenges and failures along the way, and then celebrate up the wazoo when they get it done.


Resilience is about persevering with challenges as well as letting our young ones persevere without stepping into rescue them!

Check out other articles Cassie has written here.