“Nothing parents say is as important as what children see them doing on a daily basis” Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg
I’ve had plenty of opportunity to practice exercising “mind over matter” while traveling and skiing in Utah this Christmas. How timely it is to be reading the book “A Parent’s Guide To Building Resilience in Children And Teens”, By Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg while taking this trip. As I reflect on what it means to build resilience in children and teens, I can’t help but see how important it is for me, the parent, to become aware of my thoughts and how they lead to actions that my children observe every day. My children are learning from me all the time. Thoughts of fear and self-doubt have crept into my thinking many times during this trip. I’ve had to work extra hard to calm my own fear and let go to a higher power and an attitude of hope for the benefit of building resilience in my children.
My first challenge was when I got on the plane and was surprised to see that it was one of those smaller planes with just two seats on each isle. It was very hot and I was overdressed. So, my first “mind over matter” challenge had to do with that feeling of anxiety about sitting in a small space and feeling very warm. I must admit that I had the thought of me standing up and walking to the front of the plane and begging to be let off. Ever felt this way? Then I remembered that I was with my family of six and that I had better calm my anxiety because this was “our vacation”. I was sitting next to my almost 14-year-old son who seemed not affected in the least by either the heat or the enclosed nature of the space. So, I distracted both of us with a little card sorting until the plane took off. I found it amazing to notice the power of the human thought. And, that I could change the thought with a little prayer and refocus.
Other challenges continued to happen to all of us as we embarked on our ski adventure. Just the challenge of getting all of our ski equipment on and getting out the door is enough to make some reconsider skiing altogether! It’s a lot of work to get the boots on and to make sure you have the gloves, the helmet, the goggles, etc. And then we are all boiling hot in our gear waiting endlessly for the others to get their gear on. This act of getting the gear on and taking it off is what helps build resilient children, especially if you encourage doing it with out getting angry.
Then there’s the snowy white out on the mountain while you are skiing. All of a sudden, you can’t see the snow mounds in front of you and the snow in front of you all looks the same. The strategy you were used to using while skiing, no longer works. Now, you’re on your own and it’s kind of a “let go” experience, because you just ski the best you can and hope for the best. It was fun to watch my children have to deal with this. My daughter who is eleven is a new snow boarder and this was challenging for her. She didn’t like the feeling of being out of control and fell a lot more. My other daughter (age 9) found it extra fun and seemed fearless as she continued doing the jumps and bumps yelling “weeeeee” as she flew down the mountain.
“Both traveling and winter sports offer an opportunity for fun and adventure. They also illustrate how one might face life’s challenges. Observe a group of beginning skiers and their expressions as they ride the lift up the slope. Some may look apprehensive, others excited. Some may be fearful, anticipating a fall. Others are joyous and free, ready to face the slope with confidence.
Which of these two groups of skiers best describes you at this moment? Do you anticipate what might go wrong, or do you greet each situation with expectation of good? Do you let go and let God? Or, do you hold onto fear and try to control the situation.”
As parents, I would suggest that we become aware of our thoughts and realize that we have a choice. We can hold onto our fear and share this type of energy with our children. Or, we can recognize our fear, name it, and choose to “let it go” to a higher power instead.
“On this day, I let go of any fear that may be holding me back. I let go, let God and enjoy the adventure!” (quote excerpt from The Daily Word, Dec. 30, 2009).