As parents, we want the best for our kids. We want them to learn skills that help their lives and future careers, and engage them where they are at.

However, the reality is that we often find ourselves in survival mode – extended, overwhelmed and anxious. In 2020, that certainly has been more difficult with the pandemic, social unrest, election year, and variety of school changes. 

Teaching our kids advanced coping skills is a new “must have”, as there will certainly be many things for them to handle now, and in their future. Building their ability to be resilient, no matter the situation, will increase their success and enjoyment of their lives. 

In the past,  methods for this have included months of counseling, medications, self-help books, diet changes and camp programs. While useful approaches for some, there’s actually an easy (and free) method you can start to do now. It’s only a few minutes a day and will set your kid up for a win in their day, and life. As a bonus, it serves you as a parent too.

Aside from you and your child feeling great, this approach has proven results in dozens of studies, including:

  • 25% better sleep quality
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Long-Term Wellbeing increases
  • Increases life-long likelihood of exercise
  • Increases Energy Levels
  • Fosters resilience in a period of life transition 

The Wonderment Process

Simply do these five steps (and maybe the one bonus step for extra credit) before school and work every day with your child. It’s incredibly easy and you’ll notice a difference immediately.

  1. Find a relatively quiet place in your house looking outside (or outside, weather permitting).
  2. Take 3-5 slow, deep breaths
  3. Quietly look around you for about a minute. Become curious about what you see.
  4. Each of you will take turns doing the following, and otherwise be silent.
    • Say out loud “I wonder WHAT/WHY/HOW/WHERE x ……”
    • For example “I wonder how many birds have been in that tree.” or “I wonder how they decided to paint their house that color” or “I wonder where all the parts for that car were made”
    • Then the other person goes. Repeat 5-10 times
  5. Do this every day, ideally in different locations and always with different things you are curious about.
  6. Optional Bonus Round – Name 3 things you are thankful for.

However you do this is just perfect. Many of the parents we worked with find that their kids ask to do this during the day or remind you during a stressful time of this option. Your kids may also be silly with this at first, and that’s fine. You can even dedicate one morning of the week as the “silly round” if you like – laughing together is incredibly important for resilience too!

Along with slowing down, feeling good and connecting with your child, there’s some brain science at play here. If there are any stressors going on, this can connect you with your prefrontal cortex where immense problem solving capabilities live. You are also helping the transition from the Delta brain state of sleeping, through a relaxed Alpha state of contemplation into a productive Beta state for your day.

The other pattern you are creating is one to handle resilience. Whether it’s a long line at the store, a topic that isn’t the most exciting, or traffic – there’s now a new option. Instead of being angry, frustrated or sad – you can wonder and become curious. It’s a much happier and productive state, and more easily allows you to be resilient and thrive.

I wonder how many people this will reach and serve.

If you are looking to create lasting resilience for your family, and want to leave the drama behind, you may be interested in our science-backed and evidence-based programs. They have already served more than 250,000 families and are based on decades of brain science. Instead of winging it and hoping for the best, we can walk you through approaches to build your entire family up. You can find out more here.

Sources and studies for this article include:

Bryan, J. L., Young, C. M., Lucas, S., & Quist, M. C. (2018). Should I say thank you? Gratitude encourages cognitive reappraisal and buffers the negative impact of ambivalence over emotional expression in depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 120, 253 – 258.

Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 56 – 69.

Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213 – 233.

Lee, H. W., Bradburn, J., Johnson, R.E., Lin, S., & Chang, C. (2019). The benefits of receiving gratitude for helpers: A daily investigation of proactive and reactive helping at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 104, 197 – 213.

Liao, K. Y., & Weng, C. (2018). Gratefulness and subjective well-being: Social connectedness and presence of meaning as mediators. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 65, 383 – 393.

Rash, J.A., Matsuba, M. K., & Prkachin, K. M. (2011). Gratitude and well-being: Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention? Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 3, 350 – 369. doi: 10.1111/j.1758_0854.2011.01058.x

Renshaw, T. L., & Hindman, M. L. (2017). Expressing gratitude via instant communication technology: A randomized controlled trial targeting college students’ mental health. Mental Health and Prevention, 7, 37 – 44.

Sheldon, K. M & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73 – 82.

Tesser, A., Gatewood, R., & Driver, M. (1968). Some determinants of gratitude. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 233 – 236.

Toepfler, S. M., Cichy, K., & Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(1). doi: 10.1007/s10902-011-9257-7

Visserman, M. L., Righetti, F., Impett, E. A., Keltner, D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2018). It’s the motive that counts: Perceived sacrifice motives and gratitude in romantic relationships. Emotion, 18, 625 – 637.

Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 890 – 905.