Building resiliency and a strong foundation is crucial in helping kids deal with life's challenging surprises.

In June, my daughter's class went on a field trip to a local pig farm. As we approached the pen, students were told to stand back because an electrified fence enclosed it. 

When one of the teachers straddled the fence, a student yelled, "Watch out!" She replied, "It's OK! I'm wearing rubber boots so I'm grounded."

That's a funny story but the truth is, being grounded by boots can protect you from physical shock, just like being mentally grounded protects you from the shock you experience in life. 

A grounded child has the resilience and calmness to weather the challenges, tragedies and trauma of life, but raising grounded children can be challenging. This was easy with my first child because resilience and contentedness are in her nature. 

However, my second child spent much of her preschool days crying, melting down and generally stressing out. Today, I'm happy to say she is now a far calmer, contented child most of the time.

A grounded child has the resilience and calmness to weather the challenges, tragedies and trauma of life, but raising grounded children can be challenging.

5 Tips for Raising Resiliency 

How did we get such a high-strung child to become calm, mindful and resilient? Here are 5 changes we made to raise a grounded child.

  1. Measure your own reactions. 
    It's so easy to forget that kids are watching our reactions all the time and that becomes their norm. Kids pick up everything they see. If Mom or Dad overreacts, kids learn to overreact too. Learning to react calmly under stress goes a long way to retrain your children to manage their anger.

    When my girls were little, getting them ready for school was frustrating and I'd often lose my temper. One day, I chose to take a short "time out" and practiced deep breathing instead of yelling.

    After that, the morning went smoothly so I kept that practice.  In a few months, mornings were productive, happy and on time! I'm happy to say that, today, I love our mornings.
  2. Make home a comfortable haven.
    One of the most important elements in our home is giving our kids free range to truly feel comfortable. Yes, they have chores, but we let them unwind when they come home from school if they need to.

    During her first few grades of elementary school, my daughter would often curl up in bed with a stuffed toy for 30 or 40 minutes. 

    I realized that was her way of working through the stress that school had put on her senses. She rarely does that anymore but giving her that space and time helped her to understand that no matter how challenging her day was, home was a place she could rest and feel secure.
  3. Make sure everyone gets enough sleep.
    You can't be grounded and exhausted. In fact, I know firsthand what happens when a family starts their day by a child waking up the parents: frazzled! My daughter slept in short shifts from birth through age 5 and it turned our family upside down.

    We investigated the problem and discovered, to our surprise, that it was a reaction to dairy.  Once we removed milk products, she started sleeping soundly and the whole dynamic of our family changed – for the better.

    Since then, I advocate not just for solving your child's sleep difficulties, but also for making sure every member of your family – even you – gets 6-8 hours of sleep every night.  Yes, it is possible!
  4. Teach values, not consequences.
    When my husband and I moved our discipline approach from "don't do that" to explaining why making good choices was important, I saw a positive shift in my child's behavior.

    For a very young child, this can be challenging. Simply explain it at their level.

    For many years, "it's not nice" worked well until my children wanted to know why it wasn't nice. Now I look at discipline as a way to shape their hearts rather than as a way to eliminate bad behavior, and my kids are learning that good behavior is just common sense.
  5. Unplug from time to time.
    I don't know about you, but there are definitely days I wish I had stayed off social media apps like Facebook or Musically. If it's not the latest horrible news, it's an argument over politics, religion or other topics you wish you'd never heard about. Kids feel the same. It's time to unplug.

    And when I say, "unplug", I don't just mean put away the cell phones and social media.  Turn off the news – you don't need to watch it every single day. One of the most traumatic things I saw as a child was a graphic war photo on the 6:00 evening news. Don't expose your kids to that.

    Remember that social media is 24-hour access to all the news. Log off, shut down and enjoy some real family time by playing in the park, taking a hike or taking a group bike ride.

Today, my kids are calm, content at home, well rested and understand good values. As a family, we all enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. These changes took time but we are more grounded as a family thanks to that effort.

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About Gina Badalaty

Gina Badalaty is a lifestyle blogger for moms raising kids with special needs. She is passionate about living a nontoxic life, inclusion for kids with disabilities and technology to help kids thrive.

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