By 24 July 2017Health

Resilience – the ability to recover from setbacks, to adapt.

Hannah’s bikini quest got me thinking – how come so many of us are uncomfortable with our bodies? Studies suggest that as many as 90% of females’ are unhappy with their body image and resort to dieting to “improve” the way they look. Now before I go on let me just assure you that Hannah’s body quest has NOTHING to do with lack of self-esteem or feelings of loss of control (you can back me up here Hannah!!) but more about learning how much she can get out of her body – in the healthiest way (follow her regimen and health tips to understand this better), and I greatly admire what she’s achieved.

But back to the dieting thing…I have been “conscious” of my own body almost my entire life, highly critical of myself. I often wondered what triggered this constant concern of mine, what prompted this need to be “thin”. I don’t think I can blame media, social or otherwise because when I grew up it was much less prevalent, and there was certainly no talk in my home or suggestion from others outside it, that I needed to lose weight.

Over my life there have been key times when my body image has become more of an issue for me. A chat about this with a friend helped me realise that it has often been associated with major changes in life. I remember leaving school, leaving home, starting nursing, changing countries – they were all triggers for an what could be deemed an unnatural obsession with the way I looked or rather how much I weighed.

That said I’ve come to realise that it was most likely never really about my weight but more about my ability to control that element of my life – in times of flux or uncertainty I used food and the weigh scales to give me a sense of control.

On revisiting my own story, it has become increasingly important to me as a mother to ensure my own daughters don’t fall victim to the same obsession or rather the same detrimental coping mechanism as me. I find myself consciously and keenly promoting a healthy body image, a balance between good diet and exercise. I talk to them about fuelling their bodies to be at its best – it’s about strong not thin, healthy rather than unhealthy. In all of this of course is the need to promote resilience in children – my food issues were about control – so I am keen to teach my daughters a healthier way to deal with flux and change in their own lives .

I’ve done a bit a reading around this subject to help me help them and I thought that maybe these might be useful to share here!

So here you go:

  • Nurture their sense of self-worth – give feedback about their best qualities and what you love about them & high-five them when they do well. But don’t over do the praise if in fact they fall short of the mark. This new age notion that everyone’s a winner is not real world!!!
  • Give them responsibility – whether that is in the form of chores, taking care of pets, looking out for siblings. Set the task with context and meaning so they get to understand their part in getting it done, and can feel proud of themselves when task achieved.
  • Ensure they understand consequences and make sure to avoid failing to follow through with said consequences – they learn very quickly if you fail! This I would agree is often the hardest thing to do – I have often found myself following the path of least resistance and caving in – anything for a quiet life. But just know that this tact serves no-one  in the long-run.
  • Let them fail!! It’s so easy to take over and put things “right” but ultimately this is the greatest disservice to them. Again difficult to put into practice –as mothers we often step in too soon. An example of this in my house is when my 12 y.o takes on cooking/baking quests! When all is chaotic and awry I am compelled to take over – even when she’s pushing me out of the way and states “mum I’ve got it!” I must take my own advice and learn to walk away – let her get on with it, no-one ever died over a kitchen of dirty dishes or a cake under/over done!
  • Let them express and implement their own ideas – so long as they are safe. This allows them to explore ways of doing, and shows them what does and doesn’t work and allows them to learn what NOT to do next time around.

I think it’s important that we let our kids know this world is not perfect, that life is full of challenges and disappointments. We must teach them it’s not so much the failure but how they deal with it, is important. It’s ok to have the tears of frustration when they fail (even as adults a hissy fit can be good for the soul!) but we must teach them to move on, to help them figure out the lessons and identify what they would do differently next time.

It’s been suggested that it takes 10,000 hours of consistent persistence to become expert at anything worthwhile – a fleeting attempt at anything new is sure to result in a less than perfect outcome! I’ve shared this with my cherubs many times when they say “I can’t”.

I love to share motivational quotes to help get the message across, this one is a winner emphasising that failure is just part of the game of life!

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life… And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Bev says:

    Very powerfully said. I raised my children in a different time seems sometimes like a different planet. Things have changed and it’s difficult sometimes as a grandparent to watch our grandchildren being brought up that they will always win and they are never wrong. I have with love in my heart made a note of all your points and passed on to my children . Boundaries with love I believe help kids grow to be confident and secure. Thanks again , for your truth and authenticity.

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