Building Resilience in Children
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure and challenges, It’s not something that kids either have or don’t have, but a skill that develops as they grow. Resiliency helps kids navigate stressful situations. When kids have the skills and the confidence to confront and work through their problems, they learn that they have what it takes to face difficult challenges. Resilience helps kids navigate the obstacles they encounter. It’s not possible to avoid stress, but being resilient is one of the best ways to cope with it.
Here are some tips for parents to help build resiliency in their children:
Build a strong emotional connection with your child
-The most important factor for resilient children is that they have a stable, caring relationship with at least one supportive adult. It’s important to spend one-on-one time with your child undistracted by technology. When kids know they have the unconditional support of a parent or family member, they feel empowered to attempt to work through difficult situations on their own and to seek guidance when needed.
Promote Healthy Risk-Taking
- A healthy risk pushes a child outside of their comfort zone, but results in very little harm if they are unsuccessful. This positive stress can promote growth in children. Examples are trying a new sport, participating in the school play, or striking up a conversation with a peer. When kids avoid risk, they internalize the message that they aren’t strong enough to handle challenges. When kids embrace risks, they learn to push themselves.
Teach Problem-Solving Skills
- When kids come to parents to solve their problems, the natural response is to lecture or explain. A better strategy is to ask questions. Encourage kids to come up with a list of ideas and think of the pros and cons of each one This way the parent helps the child think through the issue and come up with solutions.
-Helping children label their feelings can help them make sense of what they’re experiencing. Tell them it’s okay to feel anxious, sad, jealous, etc. and reassure them that bad feelings usually pass.
-Kids that avoid failure lack resilience. In fact, failure avoiders tend to be highly anxious. Embracing mistakes (including your own) helps promote a growth mindset and gives kids the message that mistakes help them learn. It can be helpful to talk to your children about a mistake you made and how you recovered from it.
Look on the Bright Side
Optimism and resiliency go hand in hand. Some kids may appear more naturally optimistic than others, but optimism can be nurtured. If you have a pessimist on your hands, acknowledge the feelings that lead to pessimistic thinking and help your child to reframe their thoughts to find the positive.
-The best way to teach resilience is to model it. We all encounter stressful situations. Use coping and calming strategies. Deep breathing can be an effective way to work through stress. Label your emotions and talk through your problem-solving process.
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