Building resilience in children
In this article, we discuss how to go about fostering resilience in your child, so they have the skills they need to overcome any challenges that life throws at them.
All parents want is to protect their children and give them the tools and strength to navigate life’s challenges. It can be hard to tell the difference between doing things for kids, and equipping them with the skills to navigate the complexities of the world for themselves. It’s important to foster the character traits that enable little ones to flourish in the good times, as well as rebound and potentially even grow in the face of challenging situations.
WHAT IS RESILIENCE?
Resilience is all about bouncing back from setbacks, dealing with change, and handling life’s challenges as well as possible. It’s a crucial skill for kids to have because it builds their self-confidence, helps them manage stress and enables them to persevere when things get tough.
Resilience focuses on nurturing inner strength instead of relying on any external person or shield – imagine resilience as a journey of bouncing back and triumphing over adversity. Ideally, this journey equips us with valuable lessons to navigate future challenges more effectively. Yet, it would be a mistake to view resilience solely as a tool to respond to hardship.
The very qualities that will enable your child to recover from tough times also help them to fully embrace life’s opportunities. We aspire for children to become the best versions of themselves, to cultivate healthy relationships and ultimately, to achieve success. Resilience is a key factor in this. Let’s look at ways to help you foster resilience in your child, empowering them to face life’s ups and downs with confidence.
SUPPORT AND COMMUNITY
Creating a supportive environment is the foundation of building resilience in children. It begins with fostering a loving and trusting relationship with your child. It’s good to encourage open communication, active listening and empathetic responses to their concerns, through talking together each day. Make it clear that they can come to you about anything at all and they need never be afraid to speak to you, no matter what is going on. By providing a safe space for kids to express themselves, you teach them that their feelings are valid and valuable.
It’s also good to encourage your child to build positive connections outside of the home, as a strong support network is crucial for developing resilience. These relationships allow children to find guidance and a sense of belonging and community, whether it be with friends, mentors or extended family members. Taking part in social activities such as clubs, team sports or volunteering can be a nice place to start finding these connections. By nurturing a supportive network, you provide your child with a safety net during challenging times and you can help them understand the importance of supporting others and seeking support themselves when they need it.
A GROWTH MINDSET
A growth mindset is a powerful tool for building resilience in children. A growth mindset is a frame of mind that believes that abilities and success can be developed through learning and effort. It also looks at challenges and failures as part of the learning process, from which we adapt and thrive as a result. Teach your child not to fear failures and setbacks, but instead view them as necessary stepping stones toward success, whilst embracing challenges as opportunities for learning.
This will nurture a growth mindset, empowering your child to approach challenges with determination and resilience. It’s also good to emphasise the importance of effort and perseverance, rather than focusing only on the outcome. Remember to praise your child’s effort and persistence, not just their achievements, and talk about failures and mistakes as nothing more than natural parts of learning. By reframing setbacks as learning experiences, you instil resilience and a belief in your child that they have the ability to overcome obstacles.
Don’t forget about positive self-talk too – it’s a key aspect of developing a positive and resilient mindset! Encourage your child to challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic ones. This can help them to build self-confidence and resilience in the face of challenges. Remember, positive self-talk is a practice and a skill – it takes time!
Resilient kids are adept problem solvers. Encourage your child to develop problem-solving skills by occasionally involving them in decision-making processes and allowing them to tackle age-appropriate challenges independently. Guide them in breaking down problems into smaller, manageable tasks. Try brainstorming possible solutions together where you encourage creative solutions to the challenge, as well as a flexible approach to problem-solving.
By taking small steps toward a solution, kids will learn that setbacks are temporary and that progress is possible, even when they thought the situation was too hard to solve. This approach fosters their confidence, resourcefulness and persistence when it comes to facing obstacles, which all cultivate their internal sense of resilience.
HEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS
Resilience requires the ability to cope effectively with stress and adversity and resilient children usually have some great coping mechanisms when it comes to managing their stress or anxieties. Encourage your child to find self-care activities that they enjoy and support their emotional wellbeing. These might include hobbies, exercise, meditation or simply spending time in nature. These can also involve things like being comfortable talking with you or another trusted adult, being able to name their feelings (a skill known as ‘emotional literacy’) or having healthy outlets for stress.
It can be wise to introduce your child to grounding and expressive practices, such as sports, mindfulness exercises, making art or even journaling. Don’t forget to model these practices yourself – as children are like sponges and will copy what they see! By doing so, you will provide your child with a valuable example to follow that helps them handle stress and adversity constructively.
SELF-CARE AND ROUTINES
Resilience encompasses wellbeing and self-care. If you can prioritise good nutrition, exercise, proper relaxation and adequate sleep as part of your child’s day-to-day norms, you will be setting them up for a resilient frame of mind, based on the power of healthy routines for their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Whilst it may seem basic, by promoting good self-care in these essential areas, you are equipping your child with the resilience needed to weather life’s storms. Routines also allow children to feel more secure overall. Kids thrive in a structure and sometimes, this is exactly what is needed to give them the mental space to feel like they have more in their cup to deal with challenges.
Resilience enables kids to develop a positive outlook, cope with stress and manage anything unexpected, but building it is a gradual and ongoing process that requires patience, understanding and steady effort. Remember, resilience is not about shielding your child from all hardships but equipping them with the skills to navigate them successfully. By keeping these ideas in mind and being consistent with your approach, you can lay a solid foundation for your child’s resilience, helping them grow into confident, capable individuals who can tackle any challenge that comes their way.