As parents, we want the best for our children. To be happy, do well at school, have good friends and thrive in an ever changing environment. To do this, children need to have the strength to deal with challenges they may face. The ability to cope with these challenges is known as Resilience. The definition of Resilience is ‘the ability to recover quickly from illness, change of misfortune; buoyancy; toughness’.
So how do we build resilience in our children? There are many ideas from many reports but the overriding themes are below:
- Avoid eliminating all risks: Allow appropriate risks and teach your child essential skill, e.g. a child can help you with food shopping from a young age, at the ae of 8 should be able to purchase bread and milk on their own.
- Teach them to problem solve: Engage your child in figuring out how they can handle challenges. Give them the opportunity to “figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
- Don’t provide all the answers: Use the phrase “I don’t know” then followed by promoting problem solving. By using this phrase, it will help the child to learn to tolerate uncertainty and think of ways to deal with potential challenges. Start with small situations to prepare them for the bigger challenges.
- Let your child make mistakes: Letting children make mistakes is tough and painful for parents but it will help them learn on to fix the problem and make better decisions next time.
- Help them to manage their emotions: Emotional management is key in resilience. Teach them that all emotions are OK. Teach them that after expressing their emotions, they need to think through what they are doing next. Make it clear about what behaviours are appropriate (or not).
- Build confidence: A child’s belief in their abilities is derived from competence. Praise specific achievements, not pushing the child to do more than they can handle and recognising when they have done well.
- Empower your child to make decisions: It can start of small for example, getting them to choose their food at a restaurant, deciding on the movie on family movie night, etc. This will help with building confidence.
- Show resilience in yourself: children learn from their parents’ behaviour. Be calm and consistent. When you make a mistake, admit it. Show your child it is OK to get thing wrong.
- Teach your child specific skills: help your child by teaching them specific skill they’ll need in order to handle certain situations e.g. teaching a shy child to greet someone and start a conversation.
So lets start teaching our children these abilities.