Over the holiday weekend, you may have experienced some big behaviors from your children as you step out of routine and do some fun activities with your family. This might be a good time to talk about building resiliency as a family.
My family more or less has a routine every night before bedtime. I read a story out loud to the kids, we try some sort of relaxation or mindfulness exercise together and then we pray and hand out hugs and kisses and the kids go to bed. I found that we weren’t getting very far asking each kid to try some coping skills on their own when they were upset, so we do them all together now. We can all try them and find out which ones we like, and we don’t like. The goal is to build resiliency, togetherness as a family and to get comfortable with a few coping skills that we will be able to use in times of stress. Try some and find out which ones work for you.
Deep breathing. This is the most basic and most essential coping skill. It helps your body physically calm, relaxes your muscles and helps your thinking brain come back online. Just take a big breath in and inflate your belly, hold for 3 seconds and then breath out through your nose. Do this for at least 5 times and think about relaxing your muscles as you exhale.
Mindfulness exercise: You can find podcasts, cds, books and online mindfulness exercises that you can listen to or read out loud to your kids that walks you through deep breathing and relaxation exercises to again help you relax your body and slow down your runaway thoughts that lead to stress.
Family back rubs: This is fun right? Most of my kids love it and it’s the one they most often ask for. It physically relaxes your muscles, helps regulate children with sensory issues and it is bonding and connecting by safe touches. Now I do have a child that is very uncomfortable with being touched at all, so we do what she is comfortable with, sometimes just my still hand on her head. Know your child’s comfort zone.
What went well today? I can’t remember where I got this idea from or I would give them credit. At the dinner table or at bedtime, we all take turns and name three things that went well today. This helps reframe what may seem like a bad day and focus on positivity. This builds resilience and happiness to help us and our children look for the good even in what seems to be a bad day. By asking what went well and not what was good, the bar is set low to build positivity. It doesn’t have to be something good, just something that went well, like doing routine things. Sometimes my kids say, “I got dressed” or “I didn’t die,” and we all celebrate that that went well.
What do you love? This one doesn’t take as long as “what went well today?” Ask each family member to say something small that they love. Each person says something like they love the smell of jasmine, spaghetti, sleeping in bed when it’s raining outside or cooking and listening to their favorite album. It’s like a mini show and tell that gives the family a chance to get to know something small they might not have known about each other. It builds connection and safety in the family.
There are so many other ideas for coping skills and building resiliency, you can find whole books on the subject. Find what works for you, and find a way to incorporate peace and connection into your family life. It will help your family find ways to reconnect and regulate on those hectic stressful days and help each member of your family build inner strength and resiliency skills.