By Sid Madge, Meee
No one knows what’s around the corner, but we can pretty much guarantee it will involve change. New day, new week, new school, new terms, new friends. Getting comfortable with change is a life skill and it is important to help our children to develop this.
I’m a great believer in instant change, little ‘micro-moments’ of learning or adaptation that allow us to actively take charge of our situation and emotions in the moment, reset and bring more of our best to help ourselves and others. These micro-shifts are particularly useful for children who can find change especially challenging. Each micro-moment intervention is designed to be actionable in a minute and I’ve written three books on these micro-moments for life, work and family.
Here are five simple ways to help your children to cope with change and build resilience. They will only take a few minutes a day.
1. Celebrate Failure
Change is by definition a move from the comfortable to the uncomfortable. That also includes failure. Everyone failed their way to riding a bike for example. There is always failure first, a drop of anxiety, questionable balance and a few bumps and bruises along the way.
Next time you need to encourage children to embrace change remind them of the need for failure. It should be welcomed with open arms. Failure means progress. There will be days that they stuff up. Times when they feel they are getting worse rather than better. That’s OK. Just encourage them to keep going. And go easy on the expectations. No one goes from can’t ride a bike to Olympic Gold medalist in BMX in a week! Always encourage children to stop expecting immediate perfection and focus instead on consistent effort. This attitude will always help children to unlock the valuable assets that failure provides because it helps them to improve.
2. Positive Habits
We are often really great at creating negative habits, but not positive one. When faced with change encourage children to stop for a moment and consider what they love about life? What makes them happy? Is it meeting up with friends, listening to really loud music or singing at the top of their voice in their bedroom? Is it reading a sci-fi novel or watching their favourite TV show? Maybe just hanging out with family is fun. Identify what it is and encourage them to do it more.
It’s really obvious but too many of us forget this simple advice. Identifying and hanging on to positive habits, especially during times of change can help us all to feel happier and safer during the transition.
One positive habit that punches way above its weight in terms of impact is the art of appreciation. Encourage children to give this a try for at least a week. In the shower in the morning (or evening) instead of listening to music on their phone, take a few minutes to think about three things that they are most grateful for in their life. Enjoy those things in the midst of change.
3. Take Care of the Basics
Taking care of the basics means eating healthy food, drinking plenty of water and moving physically. These pillars are important all the time for all of us but especially so during change.
Encourage children to make healthier choices around what they eat and to take some exercise - even a brisk 10-minute walk or dancing around to their favourite music will be good for them.
It’s even been proven that standing in the superman pose for as little as two minutes can reduce the hormone responsible for high stress by 25 percent while increasing the confidence hormone by 20 percent. The superman pose means standing strong, legs hip distance apart, hands on hips as though you’ve just landed to save the world!
Next time you meet a child needing a confidence boost get them to engage in two minutes of superman pose. They may feel like a complete idiot but it will do wonders for their health and wellbeing.
4. Share and explain the 3Ps.
In his research, Professor Martin Seligman found that pessimistic people tend to explain life to themselves using the “3Ps” (personal, permanent and pervasive). When things get challenging they’ll assume the problem is a personal failing on their part, they will believe that it is permanent and will never improve and that the problem in one part of their life will automatically pollute other parts. This is clearly nonsense – a missed bus or a failed exam does not mean the end of the world.
Try the opposite approach for learned optimism. Next time a child you know is struggling talk them through the 3Ps. Instead of assuming the challenge is personal, somehow their fault, encourage them to see it as something outside their control. Next help them to appreciate that whatever it is, it’s short term and finally it is not going to mess up anything else. So not personal, not permanent and not pervasive.
There is clear a balance to be struck here. A failed exam may be down to lack of effort so it’s important to run through the 3Ps while asking question about what they could have changed to create a different outcome.
5. Social Media Detox
There are now countless studies into the negative impact of social media and too much screen time prior to bed.
Encourage children to get rid of social media – even for a few hours a night before they plan to go to sleep. Nothing helpful will ever come from checking Facebook, YouTube or TikTok before bed. It is also better for their phone to charge in another room. The light and notifications, even if on silent interrupt sleep patterns.
Ask them to check in and see how that feels. If it feels good (and it usually does) encourage a complete social media detox for a day or maybe even a week. Start small and have them notice if they feel better.
Various, MADE magazine