Resilience is an important tool for your child to have in their arsenal for getting through life. Developing resilience starts at a young age- even when riding trike for the first time- and falling off. As soon as a child gets back up and tries again, he is practising the model of resilience- the ability to shrug off failures or negative experiences and move on.
Parents can encourage kids to become more resilient to life’s difficulties- here’s how:
There is learning in the struggle
It can be tempting, when you see your child floundering with something, to dive in and save the day. Of course, your input is incredibly valuable and comforting for kids, but resilience is garnered from the knowledge that they can get through difficulties alone.
That’s not to say that you should never help- of course you should- but allow kids the opportunity to try and problem-solve on their own first.
For example, if you have given your daughter a new toy and she is trying to figure out how it works (and maybe getting frustrated), you can model resilience and problem-solving by sitting with her and suggesting she try various options, or read the instructions together. If daddy solves the problem alone then she is missing out on the opportunity to try and figure it out herself.
Rejection is ok
As parents we can feel that we want to shield our kids from any kind of feelings of sadness. Rejection can be hard for any of us to accept, not to mention upsetting. However, dealing with rejection is part of life and happens to us all- we won’t get every job we apply for, every part we want in the school play- the list goes on. It’s important for kids to learn that life doesn’t always go their way, and that it’s ok.
So, when your child doesn’t get chosen for the school concert, or for the netball team, you can help by explaining that it’s normal for all of us to experience rejection. It doesn’t mean we are no good, or that we shouldn’t try again. There are some brilliant examples of famous people who have faced rejection but succeeded eventually. It can help to highlight these to children.
For example, JK Rowling was rejected by 12 different publishers before one finally published her first Harry Potter book. Similarly, Vincent Van Gogh was not successful as an artist in his lifetime- but afterwards his paintings became some of the most admired in the world.
Optimism is key
All of us face difficulties in life, and our children will be no different. Often, it’s how we respond to negativity or problems that helps us get past them. Facing a tricky situation with a positive outlook and a willingness to find a way to overcome it is something you can model for your kids as a parent.
So, next time you end up with a flat tyre, or no dinner in the house, the way that you approach the situation can teach your child valuable lessons about overcoming problems. Maybe there’s a silver lining in certain difficulties- no dinner? Let’s get a takeaway! Flat tyre? Let’s play a game of counting different colour cars until help arrives!
This optimistic approach to annoying situations can gift your child the ability to stay calm and maintain a positive outlook.
Find self-soothing methods
What relaxes you when you’re stressed? Maybe you enjoy a run or indulging in a hobby? Kids also need ways to relax, but aren’t always able to identify what helps.
Creating a self-soothe box with your child can give them something to use whenever they are upset or angry. The box might contain happy photos of loved ones or their pet, stress balls or fidget toys, and perhaps some pictures or quotes that make them feel uplifted. A soothing scent can also help- if they are old enough then try a scented candle in their room, or perhaps a lavender room spray. They can choose what goes inside and decorate the box themselves.
Praise achievement- of all kinds
Hearing praise has all kinds of benefits for kids– it boosts their self esteem and balances out being told off! The value of praise therefore also extends to helping children find their resilience in life.
Maybe your child doesn’t achieve highly at school- many don’t. However, there is plenty to celebrate elsewhere. Whenever they show kindness to others, or have dealt with a tricky situation well, ensure you praise their behaviour. Likewise, effort in itself is praise-worthy- perhaps they didn’t get the lead in the school play but it showed guts and confidence to audition. Persistence and patience are also traits worthy of celebration- maybe they’re learning a new sport or a skill.
Look for the little wins in their every day lives and be sure to tell them often how proud of them you are. It contributes more to their confidence than you might imagine.