Resourcefulness is more than just a basic life skill. I think that learning and developing resourcefulness can be one of the most important things our children achieve. I know it doesn’t sound glamorous–but resourcefulness equals creativity, flexibility and resiliency and, as most of us have learned from the realities of life–these qualities can mean both survival and happiness. So, what can we parents do to encourage our children to develop resourcefulness?
I think that children learn resourcefulness through plenty of trial and error–they need to be able to figure out how to do things on their own; how to solve problems creatively; and how to tolerate activities that do not go smoothly. As an example, a couple weeks ago, one of my daughters was working on getting our little electric train ready for the holidays. We have a simple train that used to be my sons when he was younger and it fits perfectly around our little ceramic holiday village. A couple of the track connections were loose or broken and there were other “wear and tear” issues with the train. My daughter took on the project and as much as I wanted to intervene, I didn’t. It took her a couple hours, and some moments of frustration, but through trial and error she figured out how to fix it, made repairs and adjustments, and got the train working well. She had to draw on her knowledge of science and electrical currents, personal patience, focus, etc. She had to be resourceful in order to solve all the little problems and repair the train and tracks.
We can let our kids try hard things and resist the urge to swoop in and rescue and “show them the answers” if we want them to develop resourcefulness. We can encourage them to solve problems and let them know that we don’t think there is only one right way or one right answer to problems. Kids need practice and support in order to learn how to be creative and flexible and to learn to tolerate the time and patience it can take to solve a problem or deal with something tough.