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Want to raise resilient kids? Teach them to embrace their feelings

It is the emotional mending of what has been broken that paves the way to being able to thrive and bounce back.

Want to raise resilient kids? Teach them to embrace their feelings

Stress seems to lie around every corner. It is there when change happens to us or when we are up against the things we cannot change. From the losses that are part of life to our unmet needs, how were we meant to find a way through?


Resilience is the capacity to return to optimal functioning after stress or to thrive under duress.
—Gordon Neufeld

While we can’t avoid the ups and downs in life, we can harness the body’s natural way of healing and bounce back. The question is how do we do this and how do we set our children up to do the same?

The key to resilience is to realize that it cannot be found by “pitting our head against our heart,” as Neufeld states. It has always been our hearts that hold the secrets to healing. The problem is we have gotten lost in thinking that the mind holds all the answers when we are faced with problems. We lose sight that adversity will take us on an emotional journey, and our feelings need to take the wheel in helping us find a way through.

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There is a difference between true resilience and false resilience.

False resilience arises when our emotions are suppressed and no longer become conscious or deeply felt. With false resilience, there is an absence of feelings and the ‘calm’ exterior lulls us into thinking that perhaps we are okay and indeed resilient. It allows a child to function at school despite stress or an adult to show up at work and do a job. The problem is, a hardened heart is like scar tissue, it isn’t very flexible nor does it feel very much.

True resilience is noisy. It is full of feelings that can be big and upsetting. You can hear it in the healthy teenager as they go through their final passage into adulthood and speak of the emptiness, fear, loneliness, or the insecurity they feel. You can hear it in the new parent who is wondering why they have so many emotions flooding them like alarm, frustration, and sadness as they take care of little people they love dearly.

False resilience stems from the absence of emotion whereas true resilience is about being hardy or of much heart. Resilience requires more feeling, not less.

If we are to play a role in our children unfolding as resilient beings, we will need to play caretaker to their heart.

We don’t need to chase them away or have them run away from their big feelings. We don’t need to toughen them up or suggest “not to let themselves get down” or that they “need to pick themselves up.”

It is the emotional mending of what has been broken that paves the way to being able to thrive and bounce back.

The problem is that when stress overwhelms or floods us, there are too many things to focus on or to feel. Our emotions are stirred up and they get busy trying to fix the challenges we face. A child can cling to a parent when it’s time to leave for school, or a teen can refuse to talk about something because it hurts more when they do.

The brain jumps into action when we are full of emotion, and feelings are a luxury. Feelings are the emotions we can catch hold of, cry tears to and make room for. But when we are overloaded, we have “more emotion and less feeling,” as Neufeld states.

We struggle to embrace the emotional journeys that come with stress, and we have lost sight of how important they are to take our children on. The problem is we seem so scared of emotions that come big and strong in times of stress. We worry they will take us down the dark holes that are part of life, and we will never get back up.

We think we have to kick and scream and crawl our way out of the tunnels in life, rather than to see that there has always been something to carry us through them. Resilience is an emotional journey and our emotions were meant to carry us forward when we no longer know the way.

It isn’t the absence of vulnerable feelings that make us strong, but our capacity to embrace the ones that we have.

We have lost the keys to opening the heart at the time when we need it the most. We have become lost in our heads and believe thinking things out holds the ultimate answer. Reason doesn’t hold the answer when our heart is hurt.

Resiliency isn’t a set of skills to learn nor is it a list of statements we tell our kids to write out and repeat. Resilience doesn’t come from a script, a worksheet or talking yourself into happy feelings either. The idea that we have to force healing down a particular path doesn’t understand the inherent capacity in humans to heal.

We need to embrace our feelings and allow what nature has given us to be able to journey through the stress and adversity that is part of our life.

We need to help our children express the sadness that will be there when things don’t go their way.

We need to open channels for expression through play and free the muses to draw out their feelings through music, paint, dance, song, or clay. We can encourage them to tell us their stories and to “replay” all that has happened, says Neufeld.

What we all need most of all on emotional journey’s are people who can come alongside our feelings.

It is the people we hold onto at times of unrest, who carry us through our strong emotions. Our relationships provide an illusion of safety in the midst of all the things that don’t feel right. When we are in doubt about our chances of a safe return to well being, it is our relationships that can guide us and say hold onto me. Our relationships are also what give us hope and help us believe that we are indeed strong enough to carry the heavy load we feel.

It is a parent’s belief in a child that helps them feel there is a way out of it all.

When I think of the big things in my life that have had to be faced, it is people I am most attached to who have anchored me the most. They have become embedded in those emotional journeys. They are the people who helped keep my heart soft and helped me endure, despite feelings of despair.

And like all journeys, once you have traveled somewhere, you are never the same again. You become forever transformed by the things you see on the way, the experiences you have, and the emotions that are felt.

Life must be lived forwards but can only be understood backward.
—Søren Kierkegaard

While you are in the midst of the emotional journey, it is not important to make sense of it all or to have the pieces all fit together. Rather, it is important to embrace the process of the emotional let down, and to use nature’s system to help release the emotions that need to come out. And it is important to rest from trying to make things different.

If we can do this for our kids, they will realize that healing wasn’t something we had to invent, wasn’t something we had to learn or something we had to work hard at or force. Rather, healing is something we have to release ourselves to. We already have inside of us the ingredients to allow healing to occur, we just need someone to go on the emotional journey with us.

As parents, we can set the stage for the feelings and the play to help our children.

Emotions are not a nuisance, they are nature’s ways of taking care of us. It is our feelings that carry us when faced with the challenges that life presents. The more we make room for them, feel them, play with them, the more they can do their healing on us.

The challenges in life must be embraced, but we all need someone to lean on. There could be no greater gift to our kids, nor no better message to leave them with.

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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