Monthly Archives: July 2013

Make Peace with Mistakes: Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

If we want to raise children that will bounce back from disappointment and failure we have to teach them and model how to make peace with mistakes. Failing is a sign that we need to correct our course, make changes and try again. Mistakes make us humble (if we let them) and they remind us of our own vulnerability. When we choose to allow children to see us make peace with our own mistakes we demonstrate that mistakes do not render us unlovable or immobile. We can move forward even with our imperfections. 

Do you berate yourself for mistakes, even small ones? 

Do you feel think of yourself as stupid when you error?

What do you say to yourself when you are wrong? 

These are all clues as to what we are teaching our children. Our children need to be able to acknowledge mistakes made, apologize without any reservation and make changes to avoid the same experience in the future. Autism does not make this goal any less important. In fact, our kids with autism may need to be even more forgiving of themselves! Lecturing our kids will never be as effective as modeling a script that they hear us say aloud when we slip up. 

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Honouring Courage: Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

Our kids with autism encounter rejection, blame, and failure a lot. And yet, these same kids show up to school, to birthday parties, to sports activities time and again knowing that they will struggle once again. In a world where we tend to focus on deficits and challenges, perhaps it is imperative that we speak the language of courage with our children and students. Words such as: courage, bravery, adventurousness, determination and tenacity need to be a part of our communication and daily language. Focusing on strengths and honouring attempts at courage is the key to building self esteem. A mentor who tells me that I DO have what it takes and highlights the tenacity I have demonstrated in the past is truly inspiring.

Consider keeping a Courage Journal with your child or student. How useful it might be to be able to look back on all of those times when the individual showed courage in the face of fear and anxiety? The power of the written word is far more convincing than a verbal reminder. Plus, a child could add pictures or record events themselves in order to keep the journal real and relevant.

Imagine your child’s Courage Journal…  Girl Preparing to Pool Dive

Today I took two bites of broccoli…I feel good about myself…but I still don’t like broccoli!

Today I let Ben play with my Lego…I feel like a good friend.

Today I allowed mom to cut my nails…I feel brave.

Today I wore a new shirt…I feel itchy but proud to be flexible.

Today I ordered my own meal at the restaurant…I feel courageous.

Today I took a bus to the swimming pool by myself… I feel independent.

Today I stayed calm when bowling was cancelled…I am proud of myself.

By writing about their own courageous actions our children will learn to develop the esteem they need to take risks and move beyond anxiety, rejection and failure. We too, will be more inclined to look for moments of courage in our children’s and students’ lives (and our own lives).

Honour courage in yourself and in individuals with autism and other special needs.

Raising Resilient Kids with Autism

So how do we raise resilient kids so that they can become resilient adults?

Build strong relationships with a child. Be open and present when they come to you with their stories, worries and complaints. Relationships are built over the long term and it is often those small little gestures of closing a computer or a book, stopping to look at a child’s eyes  that make a big difference in self -esteem. Sometimes just iStock_000007832798How_to_raise_resilient_kids_EsvUzbLsYo_lknowing that someone in our life “gets us” is enough to comfort us through the challenging times. Genuine human connection can get us through the darkest times. Individuals with autism may be bothered by events and experiences that we think are silly or unreasonable. Maybe we think our child is being overly dramatic. By taking the time to put yourself in the child’s mind (or body) and really listen (not just hear) what is being said, we are building trust. How can we expect others to come to us in the “big stuff” when we mock, belittle or fail to pay attention to the “little stuff?”

 While you are working hard to build a solid and trusting relationship with your child… don’t forget to practice what you preach! Let your kids see you reach out to others when you are struggling.

Stay tuned for more ways to raise resilient kids with autism…