It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men and women, and there is no better time than childhood to strengthen that resiliency muscle! Looking for creative solutions to problems, seeing them as opportunity and allowing them to build our grit all contribute to resilience.
Kobi Yamada‘s book, What Do You Do With a Problem, is a story of courage in the face of fear. The little hero of the story tries his best to outrun and ignore his problem, only to find that it gets bigger and bigger. Only when he turns around and looks it in the eye is he able to see the gift waiting inside his problem.
This is a wonderful story for kids and grown-ups alike. It is inspiring and gentle. It figuratively leaves space for us to fill our own stories and lessons around the margins.
A Parent-Child Conversation Guide for What Do You Do With a Problem?
Reading What Do You Do With a Problem together with your child (or classroom, or other children in your life), provides a great way to have a conversation that fosters resilience. Here are some conversation starters and added “For You Too” lessons to bolster your own problem resilience:
- Share a time when you experienced a problem as a child. Did you try to run away from it like the child in the story? How did you finally face it? Children often see adults as having always been grow-ups with all the answers. They love to hear our stories of childhood for better or worse. For You Too: It reminds you that you have successfully faced and overcome problems in your life for a long time. You are quite the expert of overcoming your problems! Of all your bad days, you’ve survived them all!
- Together with your child, make a list of all the helpers in his or her life: parents, teachers, family, neighbors. Be specific! Create a map (literal or figurative) of the web of support your child has wrapped around them. Name a time when they have helped. For You Too: Continue the web of support to include who the helpers are in your life. Problems become lighter when we can see the web of support lifting us up.
- Make a list or draw a picture of things that help your child feel better when they experience upset feelings. Self-soothing and emotional regulation is an important resiliency skill. Children might be able to come up with these things on their own or might need guidance from you. Often on the list are: extra hugs and cuddle time with a parent or loved one, quiet time with a stuffed animal, blanket or other “touchstone,” space to cry, coloring, listening to music–the list is limitless! For You Too: What do you need to self-soothe? Maybe it’s some of the same things on your child’s list. Other things include working out, taking a drive, yoga, or stepping away to breath.
- Along with your child, each draw a picture that represents how it feels when a problem is solved! Do you feel like you are wearing a superhero cape? A crown? Is it a drawing of lots of bright sun rays and smiley faces? Be creative! For You Too: Adults can benefit from drawing and coloring the same way a child can. You might discover that it’s something you can add to your own “self-soothing” toolkit!
This book and the activities I have included will hopefully become a part of growing your child’s–and your–resilience and problem-solving mindset!