6 Things Parents Should Do to Build Resiliency in Their Kids

Mom and daughter looking at computer togetherWhile we tend to remember our childhood as being fairly carefree, being a kid isn’t always a play date in the park. Our children take tests, change schools, compete in sports, move, suffer loss, make friends, and sometimes get hurt by those friends.
 
To deal with these situations successfully kids need to learn to be resilient. It’s a quality that helps us overcome obstacles, persevere when problems arise, and bounce back from adversity.

Resilient kids are good problem-solvers. Instead of viewing unfamiliar or tough situations as obstacles, they view them as opportunities to find solutions. They’re confident that they can figure out what needs to be done and handle whatever is thrown at them.
 
But resilience goes beyond the simple act of overcoming adversity. A truly resilient child has a whole different mindset than their peers who get hung up on failures. They believe that their mistakes do not define them. They know they have the ability to try again and that eventually things will get better. Interestingly, optimism is positively correlated to resilience.
 
Children who develop resilience are also flexible. They can handle surprises and adapt to new situations. They’re also less competitive. A resilient child’s self-esteem comes from within, so they are more likely to appreciate other people’s talents and work well with their peers. Instead of doing things quickly, they work efficiently and with quality. They’ve learned that taking the time to do things right and learning from others pays off.
 
The bottom line is resilient children tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful. We all want that for our children! The good news is that we aren’t born with some finite amount of resilience. It is a quality that can be taught and developed, and like a muscle built and strengthened over time.
 
So what can you do to build a more resilient child? Here are six tips for more resilient children:

1.     Avoid being overprotective. Overprotecting children fuels their anxiety over trying new things or facing a problem. As a culture, we try to make sure our kids are comfortable, but it often goes too far and starts to get in the way of children developing their own problem-solving skills. Let your children feel a little uncomfortable sometimes, and allow them to take appropriate risks. Teach them essential skills and give them age-appropriate freedom to help them learn their own limits.

2.     Teach your kids to problem-solve. Engage your child in figuring out how they can handle challenges. Give them the opportunity, over and over again, to figure out what works for them and what doesn’t. When they make a mistake, instead of asking them why they did it, ask them how they will fix it.

3.     Let your kids make mistakes. Failure is not the end of the world, and kids need to see that firsthand. Letting kids mess up tends to be more painful to parents, but it helps kids learn how to fix their mistakes and make better decisions next time. Let your kids experience the consequences of their actions.

4.     Focus on effort rather than results. You don’t want your children’s self-confidence to be dependent on accomplishments or praise from others. Teach them that failing at something doesn’t make them a failure. Praise the effort they put into something, even if the results are not ideal. This will teach them to endure disappointment, not be devastated by it.

5.     Help them manage their emotions. A key part of developing resilience is emotional management. Teach your kids that emotions are ok! It’s ok to feel. Then teach them that after they feel their feelings, they need to think and figure out what they’re going to do next.

6.     Show your kids that they matter. Like all people, children need to know they are loved and cared for. It is also important for them to believe that someone needs and relies on them. They want to know their existence and presence makes a difference to other people. Listen to your children and support them. As kids navigate new situations and inevitable disappointments, they need to know that they’re not alone. Communicate openly with them. Cultivate a warm, strong relationship. Even when they make a mistake, they should feel they can talk to you about it.

There are times when parents need some help and support. If you feel like you child is overly stressed and you could use some help them be more resilient please contact my office to set up an appointment.  I have an office in Jantzen Beach where we can meet in person or I offer online therapy if that’s a better fit for you.

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