Six Ways to Help your Child Be More Resilient
Every child has a gift. There is no success gene, no high-spirits gene, and no ‘doer of phenomenal things’ gene. The ability of happiness and wellbeing lies within them and can mean different things to different children. We can’t hide them from situations or avoid the problems that they are going to face along the way. However, we can give them the skills to be brave and persevere while facing challenges that arise. We can help them to build resilience. Building Resilience in Children helps them bounce back from trauma, tragedy, stress or adversity. Resilient children are generally braver, more adaptable, curious and able to spread their influence into the world.
Children have different levels of resilience and they have different ways of dealing with stressful times. Teaching children to thrive isn’t about eliminating the problems in their way. We just need to help them develop the skills to manage them. Here are six tips that will help our children develop skills of resilience:
- Focus on relationships: We might assume that resilience means having determination, inner strength or self-reliance, and although these are important characteristics, these strengths require the foundations of supportive relationships to develop. It is the presence of a supportive and responsive adult that helps to develop essential coping skills in children particularly when the adult provides a safe and secure environment. Relationships can make a significant difference in the life of a child, be it parents, teachers, family or even coaches.
- Let them know that it’s okay to seek help: Children usually think that being brave means to deal with everything by themselves. Helping them understand that being strong and brave is about knowing when to ask for help. It’s good to be available for help however, sometimes listening and reflecting (without directing or instructing) allows children to explore for themselves possible solutions to problems.
- Expand their exposure to people who care about them: Social support is linked with motivation, self-esteem, optimism, positive emotions, sense of personal control and Social Development in Children. Help children form attachments with role models. Show them how to make friends and explain what being a friend means. Interacting with role models is a sure way to boost resilience.
- Create an environment of ‘having a go’: Create an environment of encouragement using positive descriptive feedback. Rather than just saying “good girl” try being more descriptive, even on partial completion - for example, “I noticed your block castle fell over at the end, but starting with big blocks at the bottom was a good idea.” Allowing children to have a go at things without fear of failure or criticisms is a positive step toward building resilience.
- Talk about feelings: Children look up to adults, particularly those close to them. They learn by watching and interacting and seeing how those around them deal with different situations. Being honest and open with children in regard to feelings allows them to begin to express their own feelings which is an important step in being able to build resilience. Feeling disappointment, sadness, happiness or fear are all part of the normal human experience. Understanding feelings is an important step toward empathy and having empathy is a strong factor in building resilience.
- Help them to discover their strengths: Allowing children to develop resilience skills is often easier when incorporating a strength or interest. For example, if a child is particularly shy or struggling to join into group situations, provide opportunities for the child to display or discuss things that they are interested in or know a lot about or are confident in.
Provide an environment that allows your children to be supported, imaginative and embrace who they are. You can play a role in Building Resilience in Children with the help of resilience building programs.