How to Help Your Child Build Resilience
If your child comes to you with a problem, what’s the first thing you do? Many parents feel the right approach is to get involved and solve the issue, but psychological studies are showing that in many cases, this can prevent them from learning essential life skills like problem-solving, decision making and building their self-confidence.
While it might seem like the fastest and most effective approach is to make the problem vanish, at some point your child will need the skills to solve their own troubles and the key ingredient to soldiering through is resilience.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is a child’s ability to keep going even when things are difficult, new or not going to plan. There are multiple parts to achieving resilience including overcoming negative emotions and being open to learning through trialling multiple solutions and making modifications to attempts in order to get better results. The other factor to resilience is not shying away from new or difficult things such as a willingness to try new experiences, step up to new and more difficult tasks and seek out challenges that might produce unexpected results.
Building resilience helps children manage difficulties and set positive goals for their development. It also helps them build essential life skills and habits that will help them to continue their life-learning through adolescence and into adulthood.
Where Does Resilience Come From?
Resilience comes from mindset, or, to put it in real-life terms; it’s a personal belief that a solution is possible. This comes from placing the problem outside of ourselves and not taking things personally.
“It’s not because I’m stupid or inadequate, this problem needs a different approach and I can do the work to find it.”
A big part of resilience comes from upbringing. If the support groups around a child are encouraging and forgiving of mistakes and errors it gives permission for a child to experiment with new ideas and different methods rather than becoming despondent when things don’t go well.
Emotions also play a big role in building resilience. Managing emotions will help get to the clear thinking and problem-solving needed for resilience to shine through.
Always keep in mind that biology plays a part too. This is not something every child will excel at or feel comfortable with. What matters is that no matter how fast or slow their progress, you are there for them with consistent support and encouragement.
How to Build Resilience in Children
You can help build resilience by showing a child that negative outcomes aren’t a given. “Yes, things aren’t working out right now, what can we do to see a different result?”
How you phrase a question and how much control you give them will depend on their age and temperament. For young children or emotional children helping them handle those big emotions will be the first step. Find calming activities and encourage them to use them when they are feeling frustrated, disappointed or let down.
After that you can help them develop a positive mindset. Some things that can help include:
- Self-care and nurture – where they are given some control and responsibility over their routine and health
- Regular exercise
- Encouragement to keep trying
- Listening carefully to their feelings and struggles when they explain a problem
- Allowing them to learn from mistakes
- Looking at things from a goal point of view: What do you want to happen?
- Finding the silver lining
- Helping them see that change is normal and safe
- Allowing negative experiences to happen and negative emotions to be part of life
Independence and self-learning doesn’t mean a child is unsupported. Your encouragement, guidance and consistent acceptance are essential for building and maintaining reliance.
As well as problem-solving, decision-making and confidence resilience also helps manage stress and powerful emotions which are common reactions to difficult situations.
That doesn’t mean that everything goes well all the time, it means when things don’t go well, it’s okay. Your child has a coping mechanism that enables them to try something different, learn from the events and grow.