I want to teach my kids resilience

key life skills to teach kids: resilience


I’ve had mental health on my mind a lot this season. My previous post highlighted some personal stuff from the last year and a half, and I also went through a period of burn-out in the late noughties that was only resolved when I had to take a break with maternity leave. Commuting to London for work did not agree with me! These seasons of life have taught me a lot about my own mental health and the need for a balanced life, one that works for me. We all have different levels of stamina both mental and physical, and the modern behaviour of publicising our best selves on social media has emphasised the struggle with comparison and what makes ‘a good life well lived’ ten-fold. Having children heightened that need for me to listen to what my body tells me, if only because I’m an introvert who gets frazzled after hours of being talked at but also because it has made the weight of responsibility to ‘raise my children well’ more, well, weighty.

And it is. As parents we are well aware of the multitude of skills that our children need to learn to grow into well-rounded adults. Many of these skills they will just pick up by observation of their peers and the adults in their life, whereas others need more careful teaching and modelling. I asked myself what key life skill I want and need to teach my children, and it is obvious to me now that this skill is resilience.

Resilience means that when bad things happen, we have mechanisms in place to help us cope, and important things like sleep and eating well are prioritised. Resilience means learning to ask for help. It means knowing that hard things are not necessarily bad things, and  knowing how to handle disappointment and stress. Resilience means knowing that mistakes are not failures and that learning from them without beating yourself up is important. Resilience means being able to spot the circumstances and situations that affect our mental balance for the good and the bad and to have a plan to manage our well-being so we are not caught short. Resilience means not being tossed around by every wind of life but developing a thick enough skin to not constantly live offended or hurt. It means not hiding away from difficult conversations about what life is really like; showing them that their value does not lie in perfection or in trying to be someone they are not but in knowing who they are; teaching them to be prepared to work to achieve what they want and how to manage their emotions.

Resilience means moving on, learning from the bad, embracing the new, and learning to be adaptable and flexible. It is a huge skill to hone over a lifetime and I have barely scratched the surface, but I would rather my kids already had a good grounding to work from. It’s a daunting task to be honest, and really, it does bear the question ‘what the hell was I thinking wanting to have kids in the first place?!!’ Thankfully, it is hard but also fun and interesting and you learn as much from your kids as they learn from you, and thank goodness for that!


Bring out the scary meds

scary meds header 280914

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the first reflex of a British parent when their children are ill is to reach for the Calpol or Nurofen.

For non-Brits, I’m talking about liquid paracetamol, generally strawberry-flavoured, that comes with a syringe to administer straight into your infant’s mouth; like kids’ Doliprane in France. And most kids like it a lot, and by that I mean ‘would like it on tap, thank you very much’. Little Girl, upon spotting the bottle of calpol, has been known to try to convince me she is at death’s door and say with a sad voice ‘maman, I’m not very well, I need some calpol.’ Yeah, right.

What has always puzzled me, is the fact that there is no alternative over-the-counter medicine for children. So what do the parents of the refluxy-vomitty child do if he or she is not well on top of the refluxy-vomitty thing? Or in my case, what to do with a child who HATES Calpol? Luciole will go to quite some lengths to not ingest it. Let it dribble out, turn her head away, full body escape attempt, gagging if it as much as touches her lips; with a lot of wailing and general mayhem. It gives me stress-induced palpitations just to think about it. She really does hate the stuff, and there is nothing else to be had.

She’s been ill this past week with a really high fever and has dug her heels in at every attempt to get the meds inside her so I went to the GP and got what I was hoping for: suppositories. I could have hugged her. I barely restrained myself from going ‘yesssss’ and do a fist-pump. She looked quite taken aback at the joy on my face, which is not surprising because I would bet she rarely gets this kind of reaction at the mention of suppositories.

There is this huge stigma around suppositories in this country. Literally everyone goes ‘ewww‘ and ‘only the French‘ when I talk about how suppositories are the best thing ever. And it drive me UP THE WALL. If you said or thought ‘eww’ when you read the dreaded word, know that right now, I am side-eyeing you and patronising the hell out of you because you know what, stop it this instant with the childishness. It is a perfectly acceptable way of administrating medicine and dare I say it, The Best Way when it comes to treating your sick child. It is safe. It is pain-free. It works almost instantly. And yes, it goes into the back passage. Big deal.

Right. Rant over. I think. Maybe.  I just don’t get the phobia at all when it solves so many problems in one smooth sweep (pun intended).

Suppositories: putting the fear of man into every Englishman's heart since forever
Suppositories: putting the fear of man into every Englishman’s heart since forever

I’d never given anyone a suppository before yesterday, and let me tell you, after the histrionics we’ve had around the Calpol in the last couple of days, this was by far the easiest, pain-free. stress-free and also most anti-climatic event ever. There was no mess, she barely noticed it happened when I did it at the end of her nappy change, and she was, as expected, much better within 15 minutes, and so that was that.

The fever didn’t come back after, so I am now in possession of another 19 of these babies and I am going to use every single one of them. Not all at once though, obviously.