Resilience

Resilience is your ability to overcome challenges in life and bounce back. Resilience requires a strong sense of self and a support network. 

Resilience is essential for the long-term physical and mental health, relationship stability, and lifetime happiness of young boys. You can teach them the importance of resilience by connecting during hard times.

How do I teach resilience?

Tell them when you are having a hard time and let them help you when you are struggling. The key is to take the lead and break the ice. Show them how to invite others in and how to talk about challenges that are being faced.

 

Not only will this connect you with your son, but it will also model the kind of behavior that allows them to transform their friend group into a life-long support network. 

 

Scroll down to find out what you can do and say to ensure boys are better able to bounce back when times get rough

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A few conversation starters...

"Today was stressful for me, I'm glad it's over. Do you want to know what happened?" ​

"I'm afraid I won't complete this task on time. Do you know what it is?"

“I made a mistake earlier today. Want to know what happened?"

"I can't believe how nervous I am about this..."

1. Share your failures as necessary for your growth.

Disappointment is experiencing a mismatch between expectations and reality. The pain of disappointment is compounded by the amount of investment that was lost and attachment to a certain outcome. Yet, there's a certain measure of risk and vulnerability that is healthy.

 

When you form relationships or set goals, you risk failure and become vulnerable around others.

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A few examples...

"When I first took that class, I failed and was so ashamed to tell anyone. The next time I took it, I talked with the teacher and he helped me prepare. I ended up passing!"​​

"When I was in college, I tried to do too many things, and it backfired. My grades suffered and it felt terrible. But after reprioritizing and taking a semester off, I found better ways to manage my time." ​

​"My first serious relationship started too fast, we didn't communicate, and we hurt each other. It wasn't good. But I learned a lot about myself, my boundaries and what I need. So, when I met your mom, I was much more ready."

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2. Share what your friendships mean to you.

Talk about what your friends do and how it makes you feel. Let your boy know how important their friendship is to them.

 

Introduce emotional language into your relationship. You’ll find them using it in return. Consider using these statements as openers for a conversation:

A few ways to connect...

"He's my best friend and I love him; I can tell him anything and feel comfortable being vulnerable around him. It's an amazing feeling."

"Last year, I wasn't doing well. I was glad I could talk to him. All he did was listen, but that's all I needed."

“It’s really important that I can talk with my friend regularly because it makes it easier to share when something serious happens.”

3. Avoid Perfectionism

Masculinity often emphasizes higher paying jobs, big houses, nice cars and supreme devotion to work.

 

This set of masculinities defines a man’s worth with status, power and wealth, rather than his ability to be respectful, compassionate and lead a balanced life. This materialistic presentation of masculinity puts boys at risk of never feeling good enough and crippling their self-worth.

 

Remind him that he is at his best when he takes care of himself — both physical and psychological hygiene. This includes body care, exercise, yoga, hobbies, video games, reading or creative spaces.

 

This also means spending time with family and people that he cares about and trusts.

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A few conversation starters...

“What makes you feel good about yourself? How are you going to make sure to set aside time for those things.”

“The feeling of failure may feel unbearable in the moment because of shame. So make sure you talk about that failure with others because they will take you out of the negative space in your head and you’ll feel better.”

“When you don’t balance your life, things get crooked. What are the things you’d like to balance?”

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4. Avoid labeling your child

Labeling your child the “best baseball player”, "perfect student" or an “amazing artist” at a young age can convey to them that their value to you is in their fulfillment of these roles.

 

The issue is that boys perceive these labels as your expectations and feel tremendous shame when they aren't meeting them.

 

Instead of labeling, compliment their characteristics and how what they do makes you feel. This keeps positive encouragement while giving them the choice to redirect themselves.

A few ways to respond in the moment...

"Your ability to keep focus is incredible!”

"Your creativity blows me away."

"It makes me very happy that you are considerate of others."

"I love how you went out of your way to help your friend who fell behind."​

5. Empower him to be authentic

Sometimes when we praise or encourage certain activities over others we can send the message that there are right and wrong interests to have as a boy or girl.

 

Masculinities look different in every culture and society, regardless of race. Empower young men to find "what it means to be a man" for themselves and encourage the freedom to live outside of cultural expectations, even if it's not what you're used to.

 

The next time you get something for your boy, ask does this expand or constrain my boy's expectations of what he can grow up to be? Am I limiting the space he has to express himself?

 

Show support for whatever interests they have. Your support makes all the difference on whether they feel ashamed or proud of who they are.

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A few conversation starters...

"For your birthday, as a present would you prefer something artistic or maybe athletic?"

"Would you prefer something to wear, something you can throw, or something to play?"

“What does 'be a man' mean to you?"

"Whatever you decide, I love you and support you."