We are not all that different from trees.
Carbon-based. In need of light and nourishment. Mostly living in communities and communicating in our own languages. Battling the elements as we attempt to develop resilience. Yes, we are much like trees.
Yet perhaps the most important factor is…RESILIENCE. What is resilience and how can we develop it? Resilience is the ability to adapt to adversity, trauma, tragedy, and threats. Through resilience, we grow stronger, and more able to handle future stressors.
Such is it with trees. We see their wounds, gnarls, and scars, and admire their ability to strive towards sunlight and drink of the earth. They endure bitter cold, and blistering heat. They gift us with gorgeous shades of green and brown, some offer blossoms and fruit, and some shower us in rainbow colors in fall.
Many people are just like the trees. They suffer, they bounce back, and they give generously of themselves. In many, we can’t even see their scars. Their scars are on the inside. They are living human trees. We can learn a lot from them.
What makes a person – or a tree – grow resilient? What are the dangers that may prevent resilience?
Much study has been done and continues to be done in the field of resilience, as well as the effects of toxic stress and acute childhood events (ACEs) on children. To learn more about ACEs, I highly recommend The Resilience Project of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Childhood is the best time to instill the skillsets necessary for developing resilience. One easy to remember theory that I like is that by Kenneth Ginsburg, MD in his book BUILDING RESILIENCE IN CHILDREN AND TEENS: GIVING KIDS ROOTS AND WINGS.
In his book, Dr. Ginsburg describes in depth the SEVEN-C’s of Resilience.
- COMPETENCE: Building on children’s strengths, individuality, self-empowerment
- CONFIDENCE: Honest praise, growth mindset
- CONNECTION: Safety, security, healthy relationships
- CHARACTER: Development of morals, values, sense of unity with the human family
- CONTRIBUTION: Purpose, contribution to the whole of society, generosity
- COPING: Learning to deal with failure, stress
- CONTROL: Teaching that most outcomes are largely a result of good vs. bad choices
Now imagine again the tree. Striving for light and nourishment. How it seeks to survive in a complex world. How it copes. How it empowers itself to draw from the Earth. How it learns from failure, sometimes shifting its roots and branches in other more promising directions.
Like the trees, our children need enough room to grow, enough room to “spread their wings”. But most importantly, our children (like the trees) need sturdy roots. For without roots, no nourishment can be obtained. Parents are important components of these roots. We need to feed our children and grow their roots with unconditional love (light) and constant encouragement (nourishment).
Each and everyday.
Then…Watch them grow as fulfilled individuals in strength and in resilience.
ALSO: For more on how to help children cope with differing situations, consider these older blogs of mine here:
“Helping Parents Help Children In Traumatic Times” [on gun and other related violence]
“Right Here With You” [on death]
“Once Upon A Bedtime” [the roots we build by reading bedtime books with children]