Living to be 100 years old. Can you imagine? Now, that’s a lot of candles on a birthday cake! It seems as though we are hearing more and more about people who are passing that milestone and still enjoying life to the best of their abilities. When we hear them talk about their approach to life, we find their experiences may vary but their approach is similar. They have cultivated a positive yet realistic attitude, an adventurous love of life, a strong will, spiritual beliefs, an ability to renegotiate life when necessary, and a sense of humor. They know how to put things in perspective as they cope with life’s challenges. They are resilient. And they have challenged us to adopt that same resiliency as we make the rest of our lives be the best of our lives. The thesaurus gives us a glimpse into this spirit of resilience: it is flexible, durable, adaptable, buoyant, optimistic, proactive, responsive, tough and elastic. Resiliency is an important tool to help us cope with challenges at work, at home, in our relationships, and as we move about in the world around us. How we take care of ourselves and stay focused as we respond to life’s difficulties is largely dependent on our spirit of resiliency—our ability to bounce back. As adults, our various life experiences have (hopefully) been strengthening our character and cultivating resiliency to help us meet life’s challenges, but what about our children? As parents, grandparents, teachers and others who love and care for them, we can help them develop a spirit of resiliency as they learn how to cope with life’s changes and challenges—how to bounce back. Consider these action steps. (1) Teach your children how to express emotion, both positive and negative, in appropriate ways. If they know you are facing difficulty, don’t hide your emotions but do control them, modeling how to handle them without burdening your children. If your children see you upset, let them know you’ll be okay. Teach them that with time and attention along with God’s help, people can move through difficult times. Encourage them to talk about their feelings if they are struggling and reassure them of your love and commitment to care for them. (2) Help children learn how to resolve conflicts. Set a positive example as you resolve conflicts by using good communication tools. Teach them the value of working together respectfully with others to solve problems. And teach them how to forgive and move forward. (3) Find opportunities for them to look beyond their own needs, desires, and struggles to help others. (4) Encourage your children to solve problems and make decisions on their own. As they have age-appropriate decision-making opportunities, they’ll learn how to make good choices and to believe in themselves. Don’t rush in to fix every problem too quickly. Show children you have confidence in them by giving opportunity to work things out. When mistakes happen, don’t dwell or be too critical. Instead, help them learn from their experiences. (5) Draw together as a family when crisis comes, modeling how family members can support each other in difficult times. Include children in family discussions as appropriate, asking their opinions, encouraging them to offer solutions and assuring them that you will work together through the difficulties. Reach out to others for support if needed (church, friends, community). (6) When difficulties come, model resilient behavior. Continue with normal, routine activities of life as much as possible. Teach children that changes and challenges are a part of life, yet the essence of life does go on. (7) Pray for—and with—your children. Remember: you are your children’s strongest advocate. You are their coach and cheerleader as well as their caretaker. Let them know through your guidance, supervision, support and reassurance that they can bounce back from adversity or defeat. Encourage a spirit of self-confidence as you help them foster resiliency to cope with the challenges of today and look ahead with hope to the opportunities of tomorrow. Tell them and show them you believe in them and you love them. Above all, share with them God’s love and His promise to walk beside them along life’s journey. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker and writer. Send comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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