Building Resilience in Kids Pt. 2 |Protecting Sleep Patterns

Last week I began a brief Monday morning blog series called: “Six Practices for Raising Resilient Kids.” We live in a time when we are becoming increasingly aware of the value of resilience. Resilience saves jobs, companies, marriages, families, communities, oppressed people groups, and anyone who finds herself suffering or in grief.

On Wednesday of this past week, we remembered the resilience of the communities here in Santa Barbara who lost family members, homes, retreat centers, and other community spaces. Resilience is the ability to endure, press through, lead and even grow through the unexpected challenges and hardships of life. Forming resilience in children is needed both for the present and genuine challenges that kids face, like bullying and peer pressure; and to develop a capacity for the challenges that will come in adulthood. 

A large part of developing the capacity for kids to become resilient involves protecting them from things that threaten resilience capacity. For instance, child abuse creates a traumatic response which damages neuro-pathways in the brain and threatens resilience capacity in the child. Without healing, it becomes increasingly difficult to endure the next hardship. Those who are loved and protected in the best way have the most resilience capacity – certainly at an emotional level.

Last week I suggested the importance of finding “nuggets’ of focused, one on one time with each of your kids, even if it is only for 10 minutes at a time. Put your phone away and fully engage every day. This uninterrupted helps your child know that she is safe and loved. It helps her to develop a capacity for faith in a loving God. It helps her to know that she matters at her deepest core. She is safe to operate from a place of security and peace and confidence. These are necessary qualities to develop in order to grow through life challenges.

Today’s practice may also seem anticlimactic in its simplicity, but its importance remains in the top six practices for resilience capacity building, and that is to practice the discipline of protecting your child’s sleep (and your own for that matter). It is just not healthy to let your grade-school kid stay up regularly until midnight. This is very practical here. The blue light of the screen – whether phone, computer, or iPad – makes it difficult for the brain to rest, even into his sleep (there are exceptions with the TV if it’s in another room, you sit far enough away and wind down with a positive show before going to bed). But just because he is asleep doesn’t mean he is getting the rest he needs.

The blue light in today’s devices disrupts the REM pattern needed for effective sleep. It is during our deep sleep that our bodies – physically and emotionally – are best able to heal, renew and strengthen themselves for a new day. The reason your kid is whiny, cranky and difficult when he comes home from the late night candy and Star Wars sleepover at Billy’s house is that his lack of sleep affected his ability to be “resilient” the next day. So, he whines when he is asked to put away the dishes. He doesn’t have resilience because he is tired! It’s kind of like a “duh,” right?

Your kids want to grow and be challenged by you. They want to obey you, but you have to make the conditions right for them to succeed. Put the devices away an hour before they go to bed. Schedule a consistent bedtime routine that allows for about 10 hours of sleep per night for growing children. It is beneficial for them to read a book (with actual pages and not on a screen) that is uplifting and comforting as they go to sleep. Reading before bed will help their dreams to be positive which will create pathways for them to have a successful emotional day when they wake up.

For too long we have underestimated the influence of our physiology on our ability to succeed in everyday life. Sleep is a critical part of that success. The discipline of protecting good daily sleep patterns will help your child to develop resilience as each day he is renewed and ready to face the challenges before him.

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Building Resilience in Kids Pt. 2 |Protecting Sleep Patterns

Chris Pritchett

Chris Pritchett was our first CEO of the Pro Deo Foundation. He currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and three kids. Chris is the Senior Pastor of Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church

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