Every parent wants to raise children who can bounce back after life has knocked them around. One of the ways we can do this is by teaching our children to become resilient when things go wrong or when they experience setbacks. Below is a practical list of ways that we can encourage our children to become resilient though our everyday interactions. The idea is not to give you something else to do or to worry about. In fact, as you read through the list, you’ll likely find that you’re already using some of these practices that help build resiliency.
- Allow your child to try new things and take risks, such as the climbers that you think are “too high” or tying those shoes that you think are “too hard” for them.
- Actively challenge negative thinking when you hear it from your child. Help your child identify what the challenge is, and help them understand the difference between a big problem and little problem. Help them reframe negative statements. “This is too hard for me” can become “I just need to practice a little bit more before I get it.”
- Encourage your child to let others go first…at snack time, in recess line or at the store.
- Model to your child that it’s worth making a good decision, even when it’s not the easiest or the most popular thing to do.
- Learn your child’s stress triggers and assist them in developing some calm down strategies (dancing, kicking a ball, colouring etc.) Ensure that children’s lives are not too busy and that they have adequate “down time” to recharge. Be sure to model this self-care activity yourself.
- Allow your child plenty of opportunities to make every day choices. Would you like to wear the green shirt or the red shirt today? This encourages independent thinking in later years.
- Avoid being caught in the “but everybody has it” trap when kids desire physical things.
- Enable your child to give to charity-toys, clothes, books and time. This teaches them that material possessions are simply tools, and not the answer to happiness.
- Listen and talk to your child about their feelings and show acceptance for ALL their feelings. Help them build an emotional vocabulary by giving with feelings names. When you stomp like that, it looks like you’re really angry. You sound really frustrated that I said no. You look sad that John said you couldn’t play with him.
- Allow the opportunity for your child to help others younger than them. This encourages the development of empathy, but also builds their self-esteem.
- Model active listening when your children are telling you about their day. Get close, lean in, and make eye contact to show you’re really listening.
- Make “this too shall pass” and “every challenge makes you smarter or stronger” mantras in your home. This teaches your child to view struggles as challenges to overcome rather than tests to avoid.
- Look for the little opportunities to connect and teach - in the car, at the grocery store or during dinner. You don’t need to wait for a big occurrence to have a teachable moment.
- Remind your child to be patient and kind when their younger siblings interfere with their toys and activities. This helps then understand that relationships are more important than things.
- Demonstrate your own restrain when it comes to electronics by making people and family time a priority. This helps teach your child self-control.
- Allow children to experience the extremes of temperature by dressing for it-not hiding from it. This provides the opportunity to teach your child about preparation and safety.
- As hard as it is, resist the urge to run you the rescue at the first sign of a struggle. Children need this time to learn and to problem solve in order to gain self confidence in their abilities. Allow your child to experience failure. Not everyone is good at everything and some things take more practice to be good at. This teaches your child to persevere and try again.
- Encourage your child to try new experiences that will help then step outside of heir comfort zone. This can be as simple as a new food, or as major as a new sport or school.
Resource provided by Charity Born, Parent Support Educator, Childreach