9 September 2013

Why kids need to be resilience proofed

Over-protected children grow up to be weak adults

I was enjoying a meal recently with a small group when (not surprisingly) the conversation turned to the current economic climate. The party included my oldest son, a Lt Colonel recently back from a two-year stint at Puckapunyal, Victoria and currently working on some very high-level New Zealand Defence projects, and my good mate Allie Mooney, one of New Zealand’s top women speakers.

The conversation then flowed on to how the experiences of our early years had influenced our resilience levels. As it happened, almost everyone around the table, my son included, had experienced hardship, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and times of ‘doing without’ in our early years (and for some of us, me included, well into our adult lives.)

Our conclusion? Hardships and hard times are a precious gift. They teach us. They toughen us. They give us strength –if we approach them with the determination to overcome. Every one of us noted that if we’d not experienced those earlier tough times we’d not now be capable of doing the work we do, nor in a position to contribute to society in our various ways.

Soft adults struggle

Instead of talking about the young people you’re dealing with right now, let’s take a few minutes to consider the end product. Reflect for a moment on the adults you know. Have you noticed that those who’ve had an easy life as youngsters do it tough when the pressure comes on? Often the brightest ones, who’ve not had to work hard in school or even university, struggle the most when complex tasks require solid application. Further to that, when times get tough and jobs get scarce, those same people are not well equipped to cope with the situation. Many of them find it scary, depressing and mighty uncomfortable.

On the other hand, if you’ve already been at the bottom of the pile, if you’ve already survived on the smell of an oily rag, if you’ve been unemployed or part of a group that the ‘popular’ crowd don’t want to be bothered with, you know you can deal with economic blips – because you’ve done it before.

Learning by failing

Many readers are parents as well as working in education, so let’s consider our child-raising techniques. I speak from the perspective of having raised six children, five of them boys, and now as a grandmother of 12.

I profoundly believe that if we make our children’s lives soft and easy, if we take away risk and challenge, if we always seek to protect our children from adversity, we weaken, damage and distort the precious young lives we’re entrusted with. Of course we protect them from danger when they’re little, but danger and adversity are not the same thing. Real danger is life-threatening; adversity is just a situation that we have choices on – choices of attitude, choices of action.

Although many people know this intellectually, how often do you hear successful people – who have experienced tough beginnings – say “I don’t want my kids to have to go through the hardships I did.” So they bend over backwards, spend vast amounts of money, do everything they can to smooth the path for their children, to make life easy for them.

And in the school environment, look at the trend towards not making any kid feel like a failure. This is not preparing them for the real world – no boss is going to say “Never mind the stuff-up you made, or the major customer your mistake just cost us.”


Resilient children

I might be a slow learner in some things but I’ve had enough years to finally notice that there is a direct relationship  between kids who have life too easy or have been over-protected and adults who lack resilience, are often also selfish, self-centred and dysfunctional and who seldom rise to their potential.

Many people with wonderful easy childhoods, with every advantage and everything they want lavished on them, end up living adult lives of boredom, emptiness and quiet desperation. Softness makes us weak and ineffective.

If you’re a gardener, think of the process of turning tender plants into ones that can cope with a tough environment. My husband and I live on the shores of a tidal estuary. It’s a very harsh environment for a garden – salt-laden wild west winds are the norm and the soil isn’t brilliant. Our landscaper, when discussing our planting options, said:  “Make sure any plants you purchase have been hardened off. Most nurseries don’t do it. They raise their plants in very protected enclosures. If your plants haven’t had a bit of exposure to wind, sun, cold and rain before you transplant them, they won’t survive in your rough conditions.”

Building resiliance

So how do we develop resilient young people? It’s too big a topic for this forum, but here are three of my basic rules and a really useful book if you’re interested in more.

  • From an early age let them feel the consequences of their actions. Let the punishment fit the crime.
  • Don’t give them everything they want. Make them earn and save for their rewards and treats.
  • Link pocket money to tasks. It’s not a right.
  • Read Maggie Mamen’s book ‘The Pampered Child Syndrome – how to recognize it, how to manage it, and how to avoid it. A guide for parents and professionals’ 2004 (Rev. ed. 2006).

I’m glad about the economic mess the world is in right now. We need it. To become an effective nation and effective people we must become resilient again. Resourceful and resilient people and companies thrive. They’re prepared – with the right attitude. They know how to rise above immediate circumstances, they have the long view and they have determination.

This is a great time to be alive.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Are your days too short, workload too large and work-life balance a pipe dream?

Take a look at these Books, E-books, CDs/Teleseminars, Online Courses/Webinars and Tools. They provide practical, effective and easy to implement ways for you to free up your time, improve your productivity and reduce stress from overload.

Webmasters/Ezine Publishers: Would you like to use this article?
You are invited to use any of our articles in your publication or website. The only requirements are that we are included on your mailing list, and that you include the following, after each article you use...

Robyn Pearce CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is the Time Queen. She mastered her own time challenges and now helps people around the world overcome theirs. She can show you how to transform your time challenges into high productivity and the life balance you desire.

Get your free report 'How To Master Time In Only 90 Seconds' and ongoing time tips at gettingagrip.com.

© All Rights Reserved to Robyn Pearce, GettingAGrip.com, R.D.4, Pukekohe, South Auckland 2679, New Zealand Ph. +64 275 846 348

If you'd like Robyn to write something specific for your industry, please email us with your request.

Get Your Free
'How To Master Time'


Plus your FREE Time Resources Pack (Valued at $227)


Client Testimonials

Catalyst For Efficiency ImprovementsIt was great to introduce our two job-share receptionists to Robyn’s Getting a Grip on The Paper War text.  It became a catalyst for us to improve our administration proce..." Marie Collins, Business Manager, The NZ Institute of Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery

Enhanced Efficiency Thank you for all the tips and words of advice you and your team have sent through.I have been constantly reading it and it does wonders to my line of work and also being a wife and mot..." Anaseini Liku, Communication & Media Coordinator, Ministry of Education, Cook Islands

Clear Directions Enhance Use Of TimeI have just finished reading 'Getting a Grip on Time' and 'Getting a Grip on the Paper War'.  Particularly your book on 'Time' got me back on track, and during the day I catc..." Ingrid Geerlings, Owner, www.houseofmilk.com

Leadership Book Helps To find the Real Me‘I’ve just been reading ‘Getting a grip on Leadership’.  It is very good and has had an impact on me.  I realised I’d lost my way a bit re who I am ..." Heather Millar, Manager, Professional Practice, Central North Island Kindergarten Association, New Zealand

Additional $120,000 Billed After Time Management CourseI have personally known Robyn Pearce for around 16 years. From time to time my firm has contracted Robyn on a project basis to work with our professional staff as well as partners in the fi..." John Hackett, Partner, A J Park, New Zealand

The Librarian Who Got Her Life Back!The kick-start that I needed was delivered by a velvet glove, but make no mistake the iron hand within the glove ensured that the message was received and understood. If you are going to spend some..." Heather Jenks, Associate University Librarian (Research and Learning Services), University of Canterbury

Increasing Personal Confidence And Job ManagementHaving worked already very successfully with our NZ Team, Robyn's support of the Australian Team over a 12-month period was fundamental to helping us cope with increased day to day workload - espec..." Julia Braun, General Manager - Marketing, Beiersdorf Australia

A Great Empathy And Affinity With PeopleI have used Robyn as an Executive Coach for key Senior Staff for a number of years now and couldn't recommend her more highly. I've found as people step up in the organisation they often struggle t..." Merilyn Havler, Then General Manager, Beiersdorf New Zealand

An Increase of 30% In Gross Turnover Due To Better SystemsWhen we reviewed the progress made as a result of your concepts, a staggering number of them had become an integral part of our day to day business, collectively making a huge difference to our eff..." Wayne & Lisa Hughes, Occupational Therapy Helping Children, NSW, Australia

Motivational And Thought Provoking SessionI'd like to highlight the benefits felt both by the staff members attending your sessions, and the motivational flow-on effects experienced throughout the Hotel.In the developmental sta..." Human Resources Manager, Wentworth Hotel (part of the Rydges chain)

Successful Paper Management Seminar Thank you for your interesting and indeed challenging speech. I could see all the people who've ..." Australian Institute of Credit Managers, Sydney Branch

Personalised Seminar For Long-term Results On behalf of the team at Strategic Lifestyle Management and our client Lend Lease I would..." SLM Conference and Incentive Manager, for client Lend Lease

Excellent Skilful Presenter "Thank you for the practical and informative Time Management seminar you recently gave to our senior m..." HR Manager, ANA Hotel, Sydney

Improve Your Organisation And Productivity The response to the program was extremely positive, with an average rating of 4.4 out of ..." Noel Cook, GM, Outdoor Network, Australia

Organisational Skills Improve To Lift Productivity Your time management seminars are one of the best things we've ever done. Weeks l..." Centrelink, Dubbo, New South Wales

Productivity Increased 50% Now several months later and my productivity has increased between 30% and 50%. I'm seeing more and bette..." Senior financial planner, IPAC, Australia

Timesaving Techniques Learned A wonderful surprise to learn how much I had improved since the first programme with you nine months a..." National Sales Manager, Personal Insurance, GIO Australia

Control Gained In Managing Time Feedback from the staff was very positive... all felt they had gained a great deal of control and di..." MD, C.Y. O'Connor College of TAFE, Northam, WA

Immediate Action For Change A lot of great new ideas and some very good new tools that I shall start implementing immediately. Group Services Trainer, Adecco

Increased Efficiency Saves 20-25 Minutes A Day "Many practical hints which helped me reorganise my office, to operate efficiently." ..." Senior Partner, Baldwins (Patent Attorneys)

Invaluable Resources In Time Management Books I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on the flexibility of your approach, and..." Human Resources Manager, Professional Services Review, Canberra

Self Management Crucial In Time Management You presented a most informative and challenging training session. Your ability to gain q..." Human Resources Manager, Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal of NSW

'Time Management Guru'! Once again you combine an enthusiastic presentation style with useful tips and techniques. Succinct and fun ..." Manager - Training & Development, Real Estate Institute of NSW

Beneficial Time Management Ideas Your presentation was brilliant, and your thoughts on how to make time management beneficial to eve..." Barbara McCarthy, President, Chatswood Chamber of Commerce, Sydney

Informative And Energising Speech We could not have chosen better. Your contribution was just what we wanted and needed, and I was t..." Raewyn James, Tamaki Teachers' Conference

Positive Feedback For Speech Robyn, you gave a fantastic speech, and I am still having positive feedback about your talk to this day..." Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator, Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi, and co-ordinator of Eastern Suburbs Women's Breakfast

Work Life Balance Put Into Practice I know everyone who attended was fascinated by all your planning tips and I know many have put t..." Solo Home Business Network, Sydney

IT Company Gains Insight Into Effective Time Management We were very impressed... everyone gained considerable insight to effective ..." MD, IT software company, Auckland

Professional Approach Reinforces Time Management Principles Following a number of very positive reference checks we invited Robyn Pe..." Godfrey Pembroke National Conference, Hobart, Tasmania

Staff Queue For Time Management Tips! "Thank you! I'm sure you could tell from everyone's enthusiasm that they enjoyed your presenta..." Programme Director, Pioneer SWAP

Specific Personalised Advice Benefits Group Robyn gave much more than the professional information imparted in this kind of session...." Principal Heritage Officer, Heritage Council NSW

They're 'screaming for more'! Thanks for your wonderful presentation. I've had a lot of positive feedback from our staff, and they c..." GM's assistant, Austereo, Australia

L.J. Hooker Predicts Great Success In Using Their Time Your down-to-earth common sense certainly hit home to a lot of people, and the feedba..." Lyn McDermott, Ass. Director, Marketing and Communication, L.J. Hooker Ltd

5 Stars For Time Management Course Robyn, in light of this morning's session (and comments about short emails!) I could leave it the..." Wilf Marley, Principal, Marley Loft Systems (Accountants)

Simple Practical Action Steps For Work Life Balance We've had great feedback since your last session with the NZ Institute of Charte..." Denise Bovaird, Past President, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

Improved Focus And Concentration After Time Management Course Since your time management course our managers have found that they ca..." John Moore, Then-HR Manager, International Cricket Council, Dubai

Jam-packed Personalised Seminar Very Effective   Robyn spoke to four of my Academy groups in the space of 11 days. I wa..." Barrie Barrett, Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, United Kingdom

Awesome says Law Clerk, Bell Gully I just thought I'd spend a few minutes in the Proactive/Value-adding quadrant and let you know ho..." Law Clerk, Bell Gully, New Zealand

Excellent 'Management' Course, As Well As 'Time Management' I would like to extend a huge thank you for making your valuable time av..." David Greenslade, Managing Director, Strategi, New Zealand

We've Regained 30% Of The Time We Used to Lose! Since we worked with Robyn 5 months ago our team of 12 underwriters and support staf..." Senior Underwriter, QBE Insurance, New Zealand

Fantastic Course - Team Feedback Extremely Positive! Thanks very much for the Time Management programme you have conducted over the ..." Gareth McCulloch, National Sales Manager, Southern Hospitality Limited

View More