Promoting Resilience in teens
Claire had an unintentional lesson in resilience a couple weeks ago, and I want to share it because once again, I keep being taught that so many of the things we try to teach can only be learned if we let go.
Covid has hit the volleyball world, just like everything else on the planet, and volleyball has morphed and changed and rolled with the punches. Because of all the closures and changes, and things finally starting to open up again, Claire had her third out-of-town weekend volleyball tournament in a row this past week.
Sometimes I worry that so much volleyball takes her away from traditional after-school jobs and other opportunities where she could learn so many life lessons. But when I met up with her in Denver last weekend (the middle tournament) I was overcome with the beauty of this sport and all the life lessons it is teaching her upfront and personal.
I could go on and on about that, but today I’ll just tell the story of one, not so volleyball related resilience-maker:
Claire and I were meeting in Denver, both coming from different directions. Dave was going to be at the airport where she was coming from later that afternoon, so we had Claire drive to the airport so Dave could pick up the car she would be leaving when he arrived.
Now, rest assured Claire has traveled quite a bit before. That and the fact that Dave talked through every detail with her made us feel confident that she could do this, and not only could she do it, but it would be good for her. As I was waiting for my flight on a layover, Claire called in a panic from the long-term parking. The only parking spot she could find was not ideal, but she maneuvered it in a way that would work and was on her way.
But ten minutes later she called in another panic: the tram to get to the terminal was broken so she had a scramble to figure out a connection, there was a huge security line, and she was going to miss her flight. She was just sure of it. My heart was beating like 15,876 beats per minute trying to talk her through it all from so far away. But I willed myself calm, told her “no worries, you’ll be fine!” and prayed my very guts out, praying her through it all.
And you know what? That girl made it by the very skin of her teeth. SHE did it. Not me. Actually I think in spite of me since I was trying to tell her so much as she was scrambling along. Ha!
Was it stressful? You bet! Do you think she’ll leave earlier next time she has to do something like that? You can count on it. With every little step of doing something “scary” like that kids learn and grow in so many ways!
Made me think of my Grandma’s famous line we all have memorized:
“When you master the seemingly impossible, it does something for you that fits into your very character for a lifetime, and makes the next impossible thing seem that much easier.”
It was funny that I was standing in line with the volleyball moms the next day and one was commenting incredulously on how another teammate traveled all by herself. So her eyes were as big as saucers when I told her Claire’s story about almost missing her flight and that she drove herself to the airport too!
My 3 Tips to Promote Resilience
1) Believe in your kids.
I think believing our kids can do things like that creates a tremendous amount of resiliency! We’ve got to let them try, and fail, and try again.
We live in a world where there is a lot of coddling going on. I am a guilty one myself, it’s so easy to do things for our kids and to mow out clear paths for them. Oh we just want them to succeed and it’s so hard to watch them struggle. In some ways it has become almost negligent to let kids do things that are tough and seemingly “impossible.”
2) Resist the urge to jump to the rescue.
A while back Claire was in our bedroom late at night and Dave was giving her the business about something or other she needed to shape up on (don’t get me wrong, Claire is a pretty incredible girl, but yes, she has things to work on just like all of us do). It was late and she was tired and there were tears rolling down her cheeks. I came to the rescue adding some insight about all the good things Claire is doing (good cop, bad cop, you know?)
But when Claire left Dave reminded me that it’s ok for our kids to be sad sometimes.
And that little piece of wisdom has stuck with me, I’ve been pondering it for a while. Because it rings so true. We gotta let them do (and hear) the hard stuff. Not everything is butterflies and rainbows, and that’s ok!
3) Help teenagers believe in themselves.
Needless to say, Claire and I were so happy when we got to hug at the airport in Denver! She was glowing with a pride that only comes from stretching yourself and making it all work out. She had done some tremendous problem-solving and she was empowered.
We took the train into the city together and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that both of us made it, negative covid test results in hand, lots of lessons learned, ready to learn more on the volleyball court.
A few good strides in the battle to learn resiliency and how it can change us for the better.