How to be a resilient parent
The goal of resilience is to thrive, and we all want to thrive, right?
Resilience has been defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Sometimes though, parents don’t feel very resilient and we need some help bouncing back.
As primary care-givers, we all know how hard it can be to be “on” all the time: needed to be there as support one minute, but ready to make the hard calls and set boundaries the next; needed to prepare food and nurture at home, but often needed at work as well. We are told that we must be “resilient.” But how?
Resilience doesn’t have to be a vague concept. In fact, decades of research have revealed that resilience is ultimately a set of skills that can be taught.
There is a saying: “If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” With crying children or a petulant preteen, that is not easy to do. But, there is a process that can start to make a difference; one that creatively transforms thought patterns so they become supportive rather than destructive and add to a person’s resilience.
That process is known as Creative Positive Reframing (CPR), and it identifies three key actions that parents can take to develop resiliency: identify, reframe, embed.
1. Identify negative messages
We all have them – limiting beliefs that have become embedded in our head. Negative thoughts like, “I can’t do this; it’s too hard!” are self-sabotaging.
Practice: Interrupt it! Once you’ve identified those negative messages, shift your focus. Take a deep breath and interrupt your own train of thought.
2. Reframe the negative with positive statements
Negative self-talk can be replaced with deliberate affirmations or questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral.
Practice: Affirm it! Create positive statements and questions. Affirmations often work, but sometimes questions work better. If your affirmation is, “I can do it. This is easy!” and your brain argues back “No you can’t, it’s too hard!” then use a question instead. Something like: “What can I do right now to move through this?” Or mix the two in this way: “I am handling this easily and effortlessly. What can I do right now to move forward?”
3. Embed it! Use creative visualisation to picture the ideal and embed it in your brain
This next step takes the previous step and solidifies it; it is a powerful process.
Practice: Visualise it! The key to visualisation is to first see what you want, and then create a mindset that you already have it and you believe you deserve it. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.
So, the next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral about yourself and your parenting skills, try using the tools that neuroscience has shown to be effective by reframing your thoughts in positive terms. Use these tools to tackle limiting beliefs, and transform that negativity into something that is supportive rather than destructive.
By Patti Clark
Patti is a workshop leader, speaker and author of This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life. She has featured on TVNZ’s Breakfast show and her work has been in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and The Mindful Word.