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While St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. is often seen as an opportunity for a heightened focus on alcohol (St. Patrick’s day is the highest grossing day in US for restaurants and bars), let’s consider using the day to invest in our kids.

St. Patrick had a rough start… think of being kidnapped and taken to a foreign country (Ireland), as a slave at age 16. Then finding a way to escape and choosing to return to that country to make things better… that’s resilience.  While we don’t know all the details of St. Patrick’s life, we do know that somewhere he learned the skills to overcome adversity and thrive.  Let’s celebrate that!

This St. Patrick’s Day let’s focus on strengthening our youth and helping them to build their own resilience.

We found these 7 C’s to building resilience online (We loved this article, check it out for even more tips for building resilience in our kids!):

Competence – Take time with your child/teen to teach them how to be good at something.  It could be as simple as a card trick or as practical as making a good soup, but the time spent teaching a skill will provide your young person confidence that will carry over to other situations.

Confidence – This builds on the first C of competence.  When youth feel like they can do something well they become confident.  This confidence helps them to make good decisions and find their voice.

Connection – This is so important.  Our kids need positive connections.  They need to be listened to well.  They need to feel nurtured and valued – to have shared positive experiences.  This St. Patrick’s day, consider ways to build stronger connections.  Perhaps visit a neighbor or grandparent.

Character – This may seem a tricky thing to focus on in one day, but to be successful our kids need to know the difference between right and wrong… how to build others up and stand up for what they believe in.  One simple idea to focus on this is a trip to your local library.  Find a biography of someone they admire and read it together… why was this person successful and what is it that helped them?  Another idea is a dinner conversation around a local hero or role model… what makes them special, what character traits do they have?

Contribution – “It‘s powerful when children realize that the world is a better place because they’re in it.” This is so true, and we need to find ways to provide opportunities for our kids to contribute and then celebrate those contributions.  This St. Patrick’s day, consider having a family dinner where each member of the family is responsible for a portion of the meal or make cookies together and bring them to someone in your community (I bet your local police or fire department would love a batch!).

Coping – Again this may seem a difficult one to focus on in just one day…  However, when we boil it down this just means helping youth identify stress (big stress or little stress) and respond well.  Coping skills include problem solving and stress management.  Consider playing a board game where decisions are made or learning a new stress management technique as a family.  There are some great ideas at mindbe-education.com, www.healthychildren.org, or www.aacap.org.

Control – Our youth need opportunities to control the situation.  This St. Patrick’s day present them with a few options for the day and let them choose!  It’s important that our kids have safe opportunities for decision making.  Will all decisions go perfectly?  No, but we can support them in building the resilience to pick themselves up, bounce back, and make a better choice next time.

In the true spirit of St. Patrick’s day, let’s move the focus away from alcohol this year to helping our youth succeed in the face of adversity! 

Do you have ideas for building any of the C’s?  We’d love to hear them!
Send your ideas to jessica@healthylamoillevalley.org