By: M. Katherine Lickteig, MA, LPC Associate
Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
What is resilience in children? Resilience in children is the ability to bounce back from stressors in life such as everyday stress, adversity, failure, life challenges, or even trauma. Unfortunately, kids are not born with resiliency. Most children come equipped with the ability to work through challenges. However, it’s a skill that children develop this skill as they grow.
Why should parents want to develop resilience in their children? Resilient kids have the confidence to take healthy risks. These kids don’t have a fear of falling short of expectations. Resilient kids tend to be curious and brave. Children who develop resiliency develop the ability to trust their instincts. Emotionally healthy people show knowledge of their limits. Children will also push themselves to step outside of their comfort zones. Resiliency helps children to reach their long-term goals. They have to confidence to solve their problems independently.
Stress and Resilience.
Despite our best efforts, parents can’t protect kids from everything. Kids are going to encounter stress as they grow. Kids may get sick, move to a new neighborhood, they may face bullies and cyberbullies, will have to take tests, may have to cope with grief, lose friends, or even deal with divorce. These are just a few things that kids may experience. In comparison, these things might seem small in our eyes. But, unfortunately, they can feel huge to children.
Resilience gives kids the ability to navigate stressful situations. When kids have the confidence to work through faith to confront complex issues, when children are allowed to bounce back on their own instead of parents stepping to solve their problems, children will internalize the message that they are strong and capable. When they have developed resiliency, they will develop the confidence to lead a successful life. their problems, they gain the
Strategies to Build Resilience:
Parents can help kids build resilience by teaching them to solve problems independently. As parents, we are inclined to jump in so that our child does not experience any discomfort. Unfortunately, when we do this, we destroy our children’s self-confidence. We need our kids to experience hardships to gain the confidence to work through their problems. If we do not allow children to develop this skill set, they will experience anxiety and shut down any time they come upon adversity. Here are some ways that parents can help to foster a strong sense of resiliency in their children.
1. Build a Strong Emotional Connection.
Parents need to spend one-on-one time with their kids: This helps children develop coping skills within caring relationships. In addition, positive connections give you the ability to model coping and problem-solving skills to your children.
2. Promote Healthy Risk-Taking.
Encouraging your children to take healthy risks is extremely important. Healthy risks encourage a child to go outside of their comfort zone but have very little danger if they are unsuccessful. We have to realize that when kids avoid risk, they internalize that they are not strong enough to handle any threats.
3. Resist the Urge to “Fix It.”
Children often come to their parents to solve their problems, and our natural response is to lecture or explain. A better strategy may be to ask the child questions. We can help children by bouncing the problem back to the child, allowing them the opportunity to solve their problems.
4. Teach Problem-Solving Skills.
When we help our children learn how to brainstorm solutions, parents engage the child in the process of solving problems. Problem-solving will help children develop a list of ideas and then allow them to weigh the pros and cons of each one.
5. Label Emotions.
Teach your kids that feelings are important, and when they can label their feelings, it will help them make sense of what they’re experiencing. For example, children need to know it’s okay to feel anxious, sad, jealous, etc., and reassure them that bad feelings usually pass.
6. Demonstrate Coping Skills.
Deep breathing exercises help kids relax and calm themselves when they experience stress or frustration. In addition, coping skills enable them to remain calm and process the situation.
7. Embrace Mistakes—Theirs and Yours.
Remember that children who avoid failure tend to lack resilience. Children who avoid failure tend to be very anxious. Try not to focus on the outcome because this will force kids into the pass/fail cycle. If you focus on the result instead of the process, children will avoid taking risks. Making mistakes puts children in a growth mindset. This mindset sends the message to kids that mistakes help them learn.
8. Model Resiliency.
If we want our children to be resilient, we must teach them to be resilient. One great way to teach resiliency is to model it for our children. Life is full of stressful situations. We often use coping and calming strategies. When adults are going through this, it is helpful to our children to label our emotions. We need to show them how to solve problems by talking through how we solve them.
9. Go Outside.
Exercise helps strengthen our brains, and when our brains are supported, it makes them more resilient to stress and adversity. There are many great ways for kids to get exercise, such as. Team sports organized playgroups, but ever underestimate the power of simply allowing your child to free play. Free play builds your child’s creativity and builds resilience.
So why is resilience an essential skill for children to learn? First, parents need to remember that resilience is a skill that helps kids navigate the obstacles they encounter as they grow. In comparison, it is not possible to avoid stress in life. So, teaching our children to be resilient is one of the best ways to teach them to cope with it.
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