Raising strong, resilient & kind children comes from our own behaviours. What can we do as parents?
‘Over-parenting’ has become a bit of an issue in recent times with our overwhelming desire to ‘protect’ our children. Even if well-intended it doesn’t help our little ones learn how to cope with life’s challenges.
Research show that ‘children who develop resilience are better able to face disappointment, learn from failure, cope with loss and adapt to change. We recognise resilience in children when we observe their determination, grit and perseverance to tackle problems and cope with the emotional challenges of school and life.’ (Marilyn Price-Mitchell 2015).
One of the most common ways children learn things is by copying behaviours. Whatever behaviour you exhibit in front of your child becomes ‘acceptable’ behaviour in their eyes and they will mimic your behaviour. So, what can we do to ensure they pick up our behaviours relevant to resilience?
- Display competence - make good judgement calls and have confidence when dealing with situations. Where possible, discuss the situation, choices and reasons for your decisions with them. Explain that there are always choices - there are several ways to deal with any situation and talking through them will help the best solution come to the fore. Even if the decision was incorrect and the outcome wasn’t what you intended, show them how to take control again without giving up or feeling hopeless.
- Build strong relationships - Building strong relationships with family and friends around you is imperative for providing a sense of security and belonging to your little ones, instilling this trait in them.
- Show strong coping skills - When stressful situations arise, deal with them as calmly and level-headed as possible. Where applicable, discuss the situation with them, how you feel and how you plan to deal with it. This will encourage them to do the same when problems arise in their lives.
- Good character - behaving in a balanced way, having a fundamental sense of right from wrong, making sensible and informed choices and generally being a good person will rub off on your little ones.
- Take control over your situation - display signs of internal control, exhibiting problem-solving skills rather than helplessness or ‘losing the plot’. Having self control assists them to self-discipline regarding things like eating a whole packet of biscuits or spending endless hours on and electronic device.
- Contribute to society - contributing to one’s community is a powerful motivator and reinforces how reciprocal relationships are beneficial. Get them involved where possible.
- Practice gratitude, compassion and acceptance - Being a compassionate, grateful person who accepts people for who they are and that they can change goes a long way to instilling these powerful traits in your children and are the building blocks for a person with ‘good character’.
It goes without saying that if you want your children to be good citizens with strong resilience you need to lead by example.