Resilience is the ability to adapt and change to circumstances such as trauma, tragedy, stress, uncertainty and anxiety.
Helping your child build resilience is not about clearing adversity out of their way. We as parents would love to protect them from anything and everything that could hurt or upset them but that isn’t going to to help them deal with the ‘real world’ later in life.
A few ways you can help build their resilience are:
Connecting with others
Teach them the importance of engaging and connecting with other children and how to use empathy and listening skills which will provide social and emotional support for each other.
Strong family networks are very important and if you have a good bond with your children early on in life it will a great resilience builder for the tough times ahead of them.
Help them feel empowered
Helping others can make us feel empowered so teach your children to help others, whether it be a simple task of helping someone with a task or as they get older, age-appropriate volunteer work is a great way of making them feel valuable and worthy.
Facing fear is empowering as long as they have the right support to help them through it.
Routines are important to children as they provide comfort and knowledge of what ‘happens next’. Of course, there are times where the routine will be broken but getting back into the routine as quick as possible teaches them how to get things back under control.
Being able to have open discussions with your child is paramount. Encourage them to talk to you about things that are troubling them. Avoid ‘telling’ them how to fix it, rather ‘ask’ them what solutions they think would be useful and guide them through discussion to the best outcome - get their problem-solving skills honed. As they talk, their mind is processing and strengthening.
Let them know that it is okay to ask for help and that being brave and strong means knowing when to ask for help.
Show your children the importance of self care. Making the time to eat, sleep and exercise as well as having time for ‘fun’ and ‘play’ keeps their emotional and physical needs topped up and ready for any challenge.
Establishing reasonable goals is important in that it shows them how to work towards an outcome but if the goal is unreasonable and they fail too often they will avoid setting goals in the future.
Positive Outlook and Mindfulness
Optimism has been found to be one of the key characteristics of resilient people. Teach your children how to keep things in perspective and to view the problem they are facing with a bright outlook rather than doom and gloom. Mindfulness strengthens the calming, rational prefrontal cortex and enables them to make sound decisions in tough times.
Strengthen ‘executive functioning’ skills
Creative play and board games are excellent teachers of impulse control (taking turns in games), planning, working memory and mental flexibility (the ability to shift thoughts to a better alternative if the situation requires it) and allows them to make their own decisions.
Nurture a mindset
Research has shown that children who have a growth mindset are more likely to show resilience when life gets tough.
The Sage Store has some excellent products to help strengthen their executive functioning which, in turn strengthens the prefrontal cortex.