Can you even imagine how every child could feel if we were to take what they are facing and turn it into an opportunity? When in life can you be handed the perfect storm of uncertainty to build such grit and resilience, blended with hope? This CAN happen AND through it, we have the ability to be a positive influence. What our children need is stability and we can be their stabilizer! The way that we become a stabilizer is by recognizing, owning, planning, and in the end, taking action for the betterment of every child!
First, we need to recognize that it is our adult responsibility to do everything within our power to keep our children stable or steady. This is the moment that we as adults should feel empowered by our knowledge, experience, and wherewithal to create impact. In addition, we need to execute and take hold of our opportunity to have a positive impact through our own words and actions.
Next, we need to recognize that we do have options and a larger sense of control than we always accept and project. This is the space that we take ownership of… not a space of blame.
Then, we need to plan. In order to start being a stabilizer, we must stop a few very basic things from happening that we actually are in full control of within our space. These are not limited to the 3 Step approach I lay out below in “Take Action”, but it is a starting point. I am simply pointing out that they belong to adults and not to our children! There is no doubt that I may get pushback on this by some that say they do not feel we should hide information from our children. However, the research suggests otherwise and children need us to protect the developmental process that they are naturally going through. Keep in mind I am talking about keeping the focus on our children so in turn, we must be the adults that they deserve.
Finally, adults must take steps to stop the negative impact, in order to make room to start the positive. Here are three simple steps that every adult can put into action to become a stabilizer for children:
Stop blaming others… If we want to raise our children to be accountable for their own actions, we must stop planting the seed that so much of their lives is to blame on others. This only steals their own power and sense of control that we should be nurturing.
Stop and think… is this conversation going to lead to betterment for my child? Should I ask them to leave or maybe wait until they are in bed? They do not need to know everything and yes, it can have a negative impact on them to know too much at an inappropriate age.
Stop talking about their “new normal” and embrace the change that is in front of you. No one ever said that we had to agree with it, but we must find our way through it. Simply put, we are not going to be given a pass to go around it. Change is the one constant that we can depend on in life and we must help our children learn how to navigate it while we are still able to do so alongside them. Not only does this help them understand that life will always evolve, but that our own resilience will grow stronger with each encounter.
Reframing our focus and taking on the responsibility to play a pivotal role is imperative. Let me share with you a time that my husband and I had to create an opportunity out of what felt like a complete nightmare that was out of our control.
As many of my readers know, my son Trent has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I remember when he was 8 and his worst fear was a pandemic. I remember thinking to myself, how does he even know what a pandemic is at the age of eight? And why did the world teach my sweet boy this huge fear? I also remember the reassurance we gave him reminding him that it was so unlikely he would ever have to live through one. It was almost like the reassurance we gave him was the open conversation we should have kept to ourselves, along with the quick reaction I had to blame the world for this fear. That reassurance came from a space of love wrapped around what we felt was our reality. For Trent, reassurance did not build resilience but brought about the need for more. It fed his OCD and in turn gave him less control and again built more resentment.
This open and ongoing conversation never built up his character so we knew we had to move on to a better plan. One that would empower him. One that created an opportunity for us to be his stabilizer, keeping him steady while he navigated life’s constant change. And so we did.
The unlikeliness of a pandemic kept us from facing some fears head-on, until now. That unlikeliness turned into certainty all these years later and what once would have broken him, became the ultimate test of his growth and strength. He is now 18 and has reframed OCD in his life. What was once a debilitating illness has now been refocused into strength and has even become his own positive stabilizer. He no longer looks at life’s struggles as an unfairness to a situation, and he holds himself accountable in the moment without letting it define his future. In place, he has stretched his mindset, developed grit and resilience, and has hope for a better tomorrow.
What will you do with this perfect storm of uncertainty? Can you even imagine how every child could feel if we were to take what they are facing and turn it into an opportunity?