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How to Teach Resilience Through Art
How to teach resilience to your child can be difficult. But we know that it’s key for all areas of their learning journey. We know that the road they’re travelling on won’t always be smooth. Sometimes they’ll trip on a small stone, sometimes they may run headlong into a bolder. And the thing that will enable them to bounce back from the road’s obstacles, is resilience.
To learn more about resilience itself, and how we can help build it in our kids, check out our post HERE.
In this post, I’m focusing on how we can teach our kids about resilience through the use of art; specifically the 400 year-old Japanese tradition of Kintsugi.
What is Kintsugi?
Kintsugi is the art form of mending broken pottery. When something is broken, rather than throw it away, the pieces are put back together using lacquer that is dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver of platinum.
The result is having a piece of pottery, such as a vase, looking more beautiful than before. But the beauty isn’t only in how it looks. The philosophy behind Kintsugi is that the broken part of the object has had something added to its life story, and it’s this that makes it more beautiful than before.
The philosophy behind the art form, I think links really well to resilience.The flaws in the fixed item are valued, rather than seen as something negative. It sees these imperfections and the following repairs as a part of the item’s life, a part of its journey. The original damage doesn’t mean that the item is no longer of any use. The focus is more on valuing the damage than the pieces that are missing. It’s transformed into something new. The cracks have been turned into gold, which celebrates imperfection.
Of course, this metaphor for resilience is quite complex for our kids to understand. But I think we can use it in a way that allows them to see something important when it comes to resilience. And that’s when we make mistakes, when things go wrong in our lives, we may get hurt, we may fail at something; but the crucial thing is to be able to bounce back. And not only bounce back but be more resilient than before. What they have gained from the pebble or bolder on their road gives them strength: the gold that cements the cracks helps build their resilience.
Kintsugi can also be helpful to our kids in showing them that mistakes are not something to be afraid of, but an important part of their learning. Without making mistakes, they’ll limit their learning because they won’t take the risks needed to fulfil their potential.
It can also encourage our kids to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. By seeing the value in the parts that have been fixed, rather than focus on parts that are missing, develops a positive and growth mindset. Both of these are important aspects of developing resilience. And something visual, like Kintsugi art can help our kids see the positives that come when we look at the positive side of something.
To help your child understand resilience, you can teach them about the philosophy behind Kintsugi on a very simple level, or a level that is appropriate for the age of your child. And the best way to do that is to do some Kintsugi with them!
I’m not sure there’s any family who doesn’t have a broken plate! Or it may be an ornament that’s been broken. If it’s something ceramic, you can buy a Kintsugi repair kit. Or if it’s not something you’re going to eat from, like a plate, you could just mix glue with some gold paint, or use gold/silver coloured glue. Maybe even glitter glue!
I also think you could demonstrate it with anything that’s special to them. It might be a hole in a soft toy that you could sew with gold cotton, or a colour of their choice. Or a broken toy can be fixed with coloured glue. Anything really that allows them to see that the object isn’t ruined and fit for the bin but has become more beautiful. It now has something added to its story, just like we do when we go through any kind of adversity.
You could even extend this to build positive childhood memories. An example might be something like, ‘Remember when the neighbour’s dog thought your teddy was his toy and accidently ripped it? You had such fun playing with the dog that day. Teddy can remind you of the fun you had with her beautiful golden scars!’.
There’s a wonderful Chinese proverb, that says:
Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
Whenever we help and support our kids on their learning journey, involving them will bear the best fruits. And I think the art of Kintsugi is a good example. It also gives kids something visual, which can be a tremendous help to many when it comes to learning something new.
Over to you…
Have you done Kintsugi with your kids? Having read this post, is it something that you think your kids would benefit from in helping them understand resilience? I’d love to chat with you in the comments below and hear your thoughts 🙂