I love my kids but sometimes they can be a bit, well, a little bit lazy. I know, I can too. How do we teach our kids to be resilient? I also like the word grit. How do we instill grit in our kids?

So let’s start off with a definition. It’s the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It’s toughness. So how do we instill toughness in our kid? And I asked our therapist about this and he said, “Great question. Let me get back to you.” And the next time I saw him he gave me this article, I think it was the Washington Post, and it talked about resiliency and how it’s almost like a cycle, it, like, skips a generation. It’s almost like if the …

So in my old life, you know, we grew up in, we didn’t have much money. You know, I remember waiting in lines for government cheese. And as I kid, like, you see that and you’re, like, “I don’t want to have to go through that. I don’t want my kids to go through that.” I think that’s where my resiliency came from is just seeing my own life and, you know, not having much. And so I look at that. In this article it talked about how it really … If you got brought up hard, you’re going to be a little bit easier on your kids, which can be coddling, which leads them to be less resilient.

And then it’s this cycle. And my wife and I are foster parents and we see this a lot in foster kids, who they just have this toughness that, you know, part of it’s the way they were treated but they learn how to figure it out, they learn toughness. And so I want my kids to be resilient without, you know, being a jerk to them. And so I have, you know, my own research going through books and articles and videos. I’ve found five ways to instill resiliency in my kids. I want to pass that on to you today.

1. Let them figure it out.

So the first way is to let them figure it out. And I don’t mean just like, “Hey, figure it out,” because you don’t have time to, like, help them. But give them a framework to think through their problems. This is why I love story problems, I love riddles. Help them to, you know, the Steven [inaudible 00:03:54] begin with the end in mind. What is the goal you want to happen? And then figure out how to get there.

And when one of my favorite movies of all time is Big Hero 6. And if you remember in the end they were fighting the bad guy and they were just getting clobbered. And they had to look at things in a, I think Hero tells them to look at things through a different lens, be creative to solve this problem. And so they did that and they ended up using their suits, their super suits in a different way to beat this bad guy. And so with my kids letting them figure it out, but also giving them a framework to figure it out.

2. Get them excited about it first.

The next way is to get them excited about doing something vs telling them they’re going to have to do it. A good example is, I like adventure races, Spartan Races, Tough Mudder and I kind of wanted my kids to do the Spartan Race. And I kind of stumbled into this where they started watching this Ultimate Beastmaster, kind of like American Ninja Warrior, and they started getting hooked on these obstacle races. And they’re doing parkour at the park and I’m like, “Have you guys seen the Spartan Race?” And I showed them a video, I’m like, “You guys could actually be Ultimate Beastmasters.”

And they got so excited about this. And we just did the Spartan Race, what, three days ago. And they loved it. They were like, “Hey, I can’t wait to do it next year.” And I also kind of … We just did the half mile. I wish I would have signed up for the mile. There’s the half mile, the mile, the two-mile for kids. But I wanted them to have a quick win. And they did the half-mile, which was pretty easy. But they all crossed the finish line with big smiles on their face and they did it.

Now the other approach would have been like, “Hey, you guys are going to do the Spartan Race and I’m going to make you do it.” I know myself, like, I hate being told to do things and, you know, so do our kids. But painting that picture of, “Hey, you can be an Ultimate Beastmaster. You can be a Spartan.” You know, they do a great job with, they get the finisher T-shirts, they get this big Spartan medal and they got excited about it. So showing them what they can be and then getting them excited about it. You know, it’s a little bit of psychology there but it works.

3. Model resiliency yourself.

The third thing is to model it yourself, to model resiliency yourself. So my example with this is my son, Kyle, did not want to ride a bike. He was … A lot of it was just fear, like, he was afraid to be on a bike. And so I wanted to show him that you can conquer your fears. And I had this friend who did alligator wrestling. You literally get into a pit with an alligator and you wrestle an alligator. And so I thought, “Hey, I’m going to do this.” One, I’ve always thought this was cool.

My friend did this probably seven years ago and we have alligator wrestling about, I don’t know, two hours south of us, and so I said, “You know what? I’m going to show Kyle that you can conquer your fears. So I’m going to go wrestle an alligator.” And so I remember getting … You start out with the small guys, and I wanted to get into the first pool. And the alligator wrestling trainer, there’s an official guy, he’s like, “Hey, don’t step there. There’s a snapping turtle right underneath your right foot. You do not want to step on him.”

And we’re barefoot in this thing. And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh.” And so he’s teaching us how to wrestle these, you know, little three-footers and he’s like, “Hey, be careful. It can bite your finger off.” And literally they had finger inside of the gift shop of someone’s finger that got bit off the week before. I was like, “This is not for me. I’m getting out.” Actually, there was a girl in front of me and she was like, “I’m done.” She didn’t even do it. She got in the pool and she was out.

And I’m like, “I think that’s a good idea. I’m out too.” And I turned around and I saw my two boys looking at me. And they were like, “You can do this, Dad.” And I’m like, “Ah, crap.” And so I turned back around, wrestled the small ones, picked ’em up, got some pictures on the website there. And then you work and you end up, you know wrestling these, like, seven-footers. Will never do that again, it was insane but, you know, I showed my son, like, “Hey, Dad’s afraid and, you know, you overcome these fears.”

And I want … So he got back on his bike. To this day he does not ride a bike, but I try to model what this could look like, conquering your fears.

4. Fail fast, fail small.

The fourth one is to fail fast and fail small. I am an entrepreneur, healthydads.com is a new business I started. I love to start websites, I love to create books, apps, whatever. And I want to instill that in my kids. You might be thinking like, “Mike, you’re teaching us resiliency and grit, but saying to teach them to fail?” But the idea of fail fast, fail small. So last summer I had this idea. We live in Colorado Springs, there’s this park down the street called Ute Valley Park, and we hang out there a lot.

And I thought about, “Hey, let’s make a website about Ute Valley Park.” And I had a friend make a logo and we printed off, oh, man, couple hundred of these T-shirts, ’cause we were going to sell these things. And I had these three boxes of T-shirts sitting in my basement that wouldn’t sell. You know, kids wore them to school, we have them to friends, we tried to sell these things but they didn’t sell. And what we ended up doing is donating them. And it’s kind of cool ’cause you see different people around town wearing these Ute Valley T-shirts.

But I talked about, “Hey, this was a fail.” We thought we were going to make a couple thousand bucks from these T-shirts, we ended up losing a couple hundred bucks. But you’ve got to know when to throw the towel in. You know, these boxes, we were tripping over them. They were just sitting in our basement and so we said, “Hey, you know what? This was a fail. We learned. Pick ourselves up and go on.” And what’s cool is now we still have some T-shirts but they’re on Amazon’s print on demand. And so we showed them, “Hey, like, you can fail, but what did we learn? We learned not to print a couple hundred that we don’t know are going to sell.” And so, yeah, fail fast, fail small.

5. Bribe your kids.

My last way to instill resiliency into your kids is to bribe them. Listen, I am a huge believer in bribing your kids. And we were at the Great Wolf Lodge this weekend, and they had this crazy slide called The Wolf’s Tail. You get into this tube and the floor drops out and you drop. It feels like you drop, I don’t know, 10, 15 feet free fall, and then you’re in this water slide. And my youngest, Sydney, she’s seven, you know, we’re standing by the ride and you just see people, like, “Ah!” You know, just screaming as they go down. And she’s kind of like, “Uh, I don’t think I want to do that one, Dad.”

But then I said, “Would you do it for a dollar?” And she’s like, “Um, how about two?” And I’m like, “Done.” And we get up there and she’s probably one of the littlest kids that got in there. She was just barely tall enough. And she did it and at the end of the water slide, she could not stop smiling. So I paid two bucks, she conquered this fear of this water slide and realized, like, “That was actually a lot of fun.” And so, yeah, bribing your kids to overcome an obstacle may be controversial but you know what? At healthydads.com we’re all about getting things done. So bribe your kids.

Alright, there you go. Five ways to instill resiliency or grit into your kids. I am Mike Ruman, founder of healthydads.com challenging you to be better. Alright, talk soon. Bye.