Children, similar to most adults, will respond to stressful triggers differently depending on their level of resilience. They might become emotional, withdrawn, defiant, angry or resentful. The good news is that resilience can be strengthened especially from a young age. Here are 3 ways we can nurture this positive trait in our children:
1) Provide a good support system
When we think of resilience, we often think of independence but in actuality, it is the presence of supportive relationships that get us through adversity. Through a relationship with a caring adult, children will be able to develop vital coping skills. Anyone in the life of a child can make a difference – family, teachers, friends– anyone.
Increasing a child’s exposure to people who care about him or her can also bring about higher positive emotions, self-esteem, motivation and optimism. Kids may not realise the social support they have around them so letting them know that people are cheering them on can strengthen them.
Tell them: “I know how scared you were when you had to get an injection. Your teacher told me how brave you were. She’s so proud of you.”
2) Let them know it’s okay to ask for help
Although it is good to encourage children to be independent, let them know that being brave and strong also means knowing when to ask for help. When facing problems, provide advice and guidance but give your kids the space to figure things out for themselves.
Nurture their feelings of competency by reminding them of the times they’ve accomplished hard tasks. Be sure to acknowledge your child’s strengths, efforts and bravery when they attempt new things. By feeling competent in their skills, kids will be less reactive to stress and will be more open to tackling challenges in the future. When your child is facing a roadblock, try saying this:
“You’re a superstar when it comes to trying new things. I believe in you. Keep going. You’ll get there.
3) Teach them to see the glass as half-full
Read the life stories of resilient people who have overcome adversity in their lives. You will realise that one of the key characteristics they possess is optimism. If your child starts expressing negative feelings, don’t be quick to invalidate how they feel. Acknowledge their frustration and introduce them to a different mindset.
You can do this by teaching your child to reframe challenges in ways that feel less threatening to them. In times of difficulty or disappointment, encourage your child to focus on what they have instead of what they lack. Acknowledge their disappointment and help them to focus on the positive side of the situation.
For example, if a rainy day means having to cancel outdoor plans, try saying this to your child, “I know it’s disappointing when it rains and we have to cancel our plans. Let’s think of something else we can do a rainy day that we can’t do on a sunny one!”
You can ask your child to think of rainy day activities such as staying at home and watching movies in bed or playing in puddles once the rain has stopped. The focus should be on the opportunity that arises instead of what has been lost.
Finally, let your child know that you will love him or her unconditionally and that you believe in his or her abilities. This will let your child be more confident in their ability to get through difficult times!