As parents, we are constantly trying to minimize fear and uncertainty for our kids, but are we doing the right thing? How can we manage to provide affection and understanding instead of transmitting anxiety and fear? We need to understand that is not possible for us to protect our children from all the dangers and disappointments in this world. However, this is not to say that they should go figure everything out on their own. Parents do play an important role in providing children with the tools to navigate life successfully and raising them to be resilient adults.
What exactly does it mean to be resilient? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress”. Unlike what most people may think when talking about resilience, these people are not unaffected by adversity, but are instead able to cope and overcome challenges effectively, even coming out strengthened by the events!
Raising resilient children is possible, you just have to foster the skills needed to handle and recover from future hardships. If you provide them with the right tools to respond to stressors and challenges, they will be able to navigate life more effectively.
You can start fostering these skills from an early age, so take advantage of it! In fact the role you play in your child’s early years is very important in promoting these skills. In short, you should provide responsive care and a positive environment to your kid. Even though young children might not be able to express into words certain feelings, they are still aware of their surroundings and can absorb scary events from what they see or from conversations they overhear. So you should lookout for signs of fear and anxiety your little one may show. For instance, has your child become more clingy than usual? Or is he displaying certain behaviors that could be signs of anxiety? Remember to be attentive and use play as a way to help your little one express his fears! The use of art and pretend games are a great way for young children to communicate what they may not be able to put into words.
Teach your little one to embrace failure. To do this, start by teaching him that continued effort, practice, and learning are the keys to success! Make sure he doesn’t see setbacks as frightening, so he can be willing to take risks and try new things!
Avoid preaching, this will not promote responsibility. Instead, provide opportunities for him to be responsible. For example, by helping out with certain chores around the house, or by being involved in doing things for others.
Encourage your child to make decisions and let him know you support him. Make him think about different scenarios and possibilities so that if he makes a poor decision, you can offer guidance or ask him, “I wonder what might happen if we did…”. As he grows older, you can gently push him to get out of his comfort zone by encouraging him to try out new activities. This will exercise his stress-response system, as any new experience does, such as going to a friend’s house to play for the first time.
Teach your child how to be a friend in order to make friends, and develop the skill of empathy. Build a strong family network to support your child through his disappointments. Having social support strengthens resilience.
Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger ones who crave structure in their lives.
Be a role model! Teach your little one the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise, and rest. Make sure you provide balance, so he has time to have fun! Make his schedule in such a way that he has time to relax.#7: Teach him to be goal-oriented
Teach your child to set goals and then to move toward them. When he moves toward that, even if slowly, and then receives praise for doing so, it will make him see what he has achieved so far, instead of focusing on the remaining path. This will help him build resilience to move forward in the face of challenges.
#8: Cultivate a positive self-view
When your little one grows older, help him remember how he has successfully handled hardships in the past and make sure he understands that the past difficulties have helped him build the strength to handle future challenges!
#9: Avoid “why” questions, use “how” instead
Ask “how” questions, by doing so you will teach your child about evaluating options and deciding which is better.
Resilience makes a big difference in people’s lives. People who respond to hardships with resilience are healthier, live longer, are happier in their relationships, are more successful in school and work, and are confident enough to explore their world! Don’t forget that family acts as a security blanket, so foster family closeness and make sure your children receive lots of love and support.