Build Muscles that Matter in Your Children

Our children need to have strong muscles to survive in this world. No, I’m not talking about biceps and pecs. I’m talking about the really important muscles, not the ones that will help them do chin-ups. These important muscles do more than look good and help them carry heavy grocery bags. These muscles help maintain an emotionally and relationally healthy

life. What muscles could do that? The muscles of resilience, emotional intelligence, and optimism. Like all muscles, resilience, emotional intelligence, and optimism can be trained and strengthened. Let me briefly describe each one.

  • Resilience is the muscle that gives them the strength to bounce back after a difficulty. Children who develop resilience exhibit better health over time. They report greater happiness and have more success. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? When resilient people encounter a setback, they bounce back. They get back in the saddle and try again. In other words, resilience is a muscle that stabilizes persistence and promotes consistency. (Read Happy Families Bounce Back for tips on practicing resilience as a family.)
  • Emotional intelligence is the muscle that helps children manage their own emotions and get along with others. Interestingly, emotional intelligence has been shown to have a greater impact on success than academic achievement. Emotional intelligence means children can manage their emotions, remain calm, and resolve conflict. It means they can better read the emotions of those around them and adjust their own behavior accordingly. It underlies the ability to influence people, build cooperation, and promote harmony. You can see why emotional intelligence seems to be a crucial muscle for successful managers, team players, CEO’s, and supervisors. Our children need this muscle to be tone and fit, relationally happy and successful. (Read When Your Children Get Angry for a process that can help you train your children’s muscle of emotionally intelligent.)
  • Optimism is not about wearing rose-colored glasses. Optimism is the muscle that focuses on “what I can do” rather than “what I cannot do.” It focuses on the importance of effort to grow and learn. It also realizes most difficulties are specific to a context and situation rather than “ruining everything.” Difficulties are temporary, not permanent. With this in mind, an optimistic person looks at a difficult situation or a failure and begins to explore what aspects of the situation they can influence. Then, they set about to exert their influence and produce a change. You can see why this muscle helps to prevent depression, increases perseverance, and promotes success. (Read Growing Your Child’s Mind for Success and Build Your Child’s Success Mindset for some ideas on strengthening this muscle.)

Like I said earlier, our children can train and strengthen these three muscles under the guidance of a great coach (that would be you, their parent!). These three muscles matter more in our children’s lives than bulging biceps and six-pack abs. They will do more than look good under their t-shirt. They will help them develop emotionally and relationally healthy lives. As parents, we can help them develop each one. We can help them build them into a strong, balanced lifestyle. Read the links in this blog for some ideas on building these muscles; then, read our blogs over the next couple weeks to learn more way you can help your children build strong muscles or resilience, emotional intelligence, and optimism!

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