Wednesday Wisdom

April 01, 2020

Cultivating Resilience

By Dr Kathy Weston

Cultivating Resilience


I have been mulling over a few things this week. Firstly, I couldn’t quite work out why I was feeling so cross and, well, irritable. Practising what I, so often, preach, I tried to analyse my own thinking and emotional responses (morphing into a ‘thinking scientist!’).

I kept returning to a comment that psychotherapist, Julia Samuel, had made during an event on grief that we ran together; unresolved grief can manifest itself in other ways. This resonated with me. Over the last week, I have dismissed my own feelings of disappointment that I won’t be engaging with my weekly audiences of parents across schools, tried to ignore my sadness that many anticipated opportunities for my children have been cancelled, and minimised my secret anguish about my elderly parents’ health.

However, if we squash down our own little worries, they can surface in ugly and inappropriate ways – snapping at our children is a prime example. We are all justified in feeling a little bit sad at the moment; mourning normal routine and social interaction. We are also perfectly entitled to feel worried about those that we love. These are normal responses to an abnormal situation. However, we are not entitled to take those worries and grievances out on others.


I am enjoying bringing the outside world into our home at the moment; attempting to give my children a sensory treat each day.

Fresh basil, pineapple, the smell of the mowed lawn, the taste of coconut milk and even grated cheese have been appreciated to a much deeper extent by all of us. The news that the dreaded virus threatens to remove all sense of taste and smell reminds us of the importance of valuing any and all gustatory and olfactory treats. Delicious food is a comfort at present, as is the voice of David Attenborough, as he narrates the BBC series, Seven Worlds, One Planet (Australiaepisode).

The photography is so breath-taking that it stops you in your tracks, but there is also a lot to reflect on and learn from in the behaviour of the animals it features. Attenborough focuses on the majestic cassowary bird who raises his young as a brilliant single father, the lengths to which the female dingo will go to feed her young pups (we can all understand that!), and the attachments that enable families to better protect nests from predators. Attenborough comments that “their bonds are greater than their fears”; a sensible motto perhaps for all families, as we enter an indefinite period of isolation.


As mentioned in many of my parenting talks, children’s resilience is cultivated through family relationships and experiences within family life.

Now is the time to focus on the quality of conversation we have with our children and to nudge them into resilient habits and mindsets. I have created a few simple resources for you that should provide conversational starters and templates for you, enabling family chat to take place more easily.

One resource provides questions that your children can use to initiate interviews with grandparents over video call, a second turns rather deep questions into an easy game and a third encourages a mindset focused on gratitude. I hope you enjoy them, adapt them to suit your own needs and that your children benefit from conversations with you and those who love them most

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