I am JJ: Your child's food allergy, resilience & the bouncing ball

Photo by Alfonse Palaima

Photo by Alfonse Palaima

When it comes to being resilient, is your child a textbook, a rubber band or a bouncing ball?

I asked this question in yesterday’s CANspirational video for young people.

The textbook hits the ground and doesn’t move. Slam.

The rubber band streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetches before snapping back to retain its original shape. It looks unaffected, but it doesn’t grow. Snap.

The bouncing ball harnesses the adversity and uses its momentum to bounce forward and higher!

One of the core tenants of living in the Land of Can is understanding and learning how to be resilient. It’s learning how to grow through adversity. It’s learning how to be the bouncing ball.

When you have a food allergy, understanding resilience is even more important because of the additional life hiccups that get in the way, sometimes daily. Growing up, if I had let all food allergy setbacks shackle me — or if I just shrugged them off and didn’t use them to grow — I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I have so far.

Instead of letting the adversity shackle your child, let them practice resilience. Teach them how to harness the adversity so they can use it to bounce forward and higher. A setback can’t set you back if you grow from it.

The experts I consulted when I was planning this blog said parents should use their own life experiences to teach resilience.

Tell your children about a time in your own life when staying on the ground like the textbook negatively affected you.  And then show them times you bounced forward and how it made a difference!

Point out examples from real life. Sports. Politics. Literature. Movies. So many lives are filled with overcoming adversity, of bouncing forward when others stayed on the ground.

Use examples from friends and family. The twitter feeds — especially the food allergy feeds — are filled with stories of resilience, people who are using their own experiences to raise awareness, create safe products, or advance research. Point out and praise these examples in a language that your child will understand.

And when your children are knocked down, help them to see their choices and alternatives.

If they didn’t make a sports team, help them to use the adversity to become a better player. Have them focus on a specific skill. Take them to see a professional game. Encourage them to write to an athlete in that sport and ask for advice.

If they didn’t make student government, use the example to help them grow as a leader. Go to the bookstore and grab a leadership book. While most young people aren’t going to want to read a “boring business book,” give them an incentive to read it. OR, challenge them to research leadership traits and write their own “cool book” for young people!

Of course, when you see your child displaying resilience, praise it.

Oh, one more thing…  experts warn that children learn resilience at home.

So when you hit a life-curve…

Don’t be the textbook. That’s living in The Land of NOT.

Don’t even be a rubber band. That isn’t showing growth.

Be the bouncing ball and bounce-bounce-bounce your way forward. Take it from me. Your kids will be watching how high you can bounce.