Strong resiliency skills can make a big difference in people’s lives and is a skill that is developed early in life. Resilience is the ability to cope with and recover from life’s difficulties. It is something all human beings have the potential for but is not a skill we automatically have without lots of practice. We work on it throughout our life and it should start at a very early age. Parents have the opportunity, and are the most important people, to build resiliency skills in their child.
What Is Resiliency?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after challenges and tough times. Resilient children can recover from setbacks and get back to living life. Resilience develops when children experience challenges and learn to deal with them. For children, challenges can include starting a new school, moving to a new home and neighborhood, having a new sibling in the family. Or even more serious challenges like being bullied, a family divorce or a family illness or death. You can help your child learn resilience by having a loving relationship with them.
Typical Behaviors Of An Overwhelmed Child
The behavior they exhibit will be different when the demands upon them outweigh their capacity to cope. Some typical behaviors of an overwhelmed child include defiance, anger, resentment, or withdrawal from others. Remember, there will be times that even children with well-developed resiliency skills will feel overwhelmed. Be supportive and refer back to the suggestions for building loving relationships to help them through difficult times. Most important, however, is to not “brush off” their feelings or underestimate the struggle your child is experiencing.
Why Is Resilience Good For Children?
Resilience is a term that most people have heard before. Over the last 40 years, research into mental health has found that a strong sense of resilience is an extremely good quality to have and that the presence or lack or resilience can have a direct impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Since resilience begins to develop from birth and can grow over time, it is important for parents to have a good understanding of how to foster this valuable character trait in their children. When children overcome setbacks and problems, it builds their confidence and helps them feel more capable the next time a problem comes up. When things do not go well and children feel anxious, sad, disappointed, afraid or frustrated, resilience helps them understand that these uncomfortable emotions usually do not last forever.
Why Is It Important To Teach Kids Resilience?
Without resilience, a child is more likely to find life a whole lot harder to deal with. A child who lacks resilience will be less able to take risks and be persistent with their learning. They are also more likely to struggle socially and have difficulty managing their emotional needs. Resilient children are less likely to avoid problems or deal with them in unhealthy ways, like getting defensive or aggressive or intentionally hurting themselves. Resilience is also extremely important for mental health and both adults and children who have higher levels of resilience are much better at managing stress and less likely to suffer from conditions such as anxiety and depression. When children build their resilience skills, they can better manage their emotions and overcome setbacks.
Relationships Are The Foundation Of Your Child’s Resilience
The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships provide the personalized responsiveness, scaffolding, and protection that buffer children from developmental disruption. This sense of love, safety, and security gives your child the confidence to explore their world and to recover from any setbacks they experience. Children learn from watching you. If you show a good example during tough times and setbacks and your child sees you try again, let anger go or think positively in difficult situations, they will learn that they can do the same.
Ways To Help Your Child Build Resilience
- Regardless of how much you might like to, no parent can completely shield their child from hardship. In fact, protecting your child from adversity is likely to be counterproductive. If a child has no obstacles to overcome, or if a parent always jumps in to help, how can they develop the confidence needed to solve problems themselves, even into adulthood?
- It’s through making mistakes and learning to cope with feelings like disappointment that we become healthy, independent adults.
- Help your child to identify and manage strong emotions. For example, your child loves his grandpa and grandpa is very ill. You could say, I can see you are worried and sad about grandpa being ill and that is okay. But remember we are doing everything we can to help grandpa get better.
- Make it a habit to recognize when things are going well. Share positive things around the dinner table that happened that day.
- Help your child develop problem solving skills. If your son complains that a friend said something unkind to him today at school. Help him brainstorm a response for the next time that happens.
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