One of the most important principles you can teach your children is resilience, the ability to adapt to adversity, including stress and trauma, tragedy, and threats. Without it, challenges seem too frightening to tackle.
Resilience can mean the difference between giving up and facing your problems head-on. Resilience is essential to overcoming the effects of stress and anxiety during school testing or social situations. Resilience creates a solid foundation so they can develop the ability to process these emotions healthily
Resilience also helps kids to grow while building healthy relationships with others and themselves.
Here are five ways to teach your child resilience.
Learn to take breaks
We often see breaks as a sign of weakness. But when kids work non-stop on homework, extracurriculars and chores, they forget to take care of themselves. Learning self-care at a young age will prepare them for those times when they feel overwhelmed by stress.
If children can’t take breaks, they may turn to unhealthy coping behaviors, like violence or substance abuse. Learning healthy behaviors can make your children more likely to seek help or rehab if needed. By teaching your child to take breaks, you’re showing them how to remove themselves when the negative emotions seem overwhelming. When kids learn to take breaks instead of pushing through all of their problems, they strengthen their perseverance and resilience.
To teach this skill to your child, start by observing them during playtime. When they seem stressed or agitated, remove them from the situation and try quiet activities like reading or napping.
Develop open communication
Communicating with your child is one of the most important ways to build a better relationship. Allowing your child to lead the conversation is crucial to their development. It might be a little difficult at first to get your child to communicate how they feel. Over time, they will learn to express their emotions in more concrete statements. Having others to turn to in their struggles will allow kids to face their trauma and anxiety, a key part of resilience.
Try to set aside time each night around bedtime to discuss your child’s day. Start by asking open-ended questions like “How was school?” or “What was your favorite part of the day?” During this discussion time, make sure you focus on optimism and learning.
If there was anything your child struggled with, ask “What can we do differently tomorrow?” This way, your child learns to communicate their emotions and use verbalization to strengthen their relationships.
Build a strong foundation
Kids will have to face difficulties on their own, but by helping them build a strong foundation, you can make sure that every time they fall, they get back up. This metaphor implies that your child’s emotional health is like a building. The building will be subject to weathering and man-caused damage.
At times your child (like all of us) will face rejection, confusing emotions, and anxiety. If they have a strong foundation, they can rebuild their structure each time it gets knocked down.
Try demonstrating this metaphor to them using building blocks or video games like Minecraft. Show your child that even if their building gets knocked down, it can be rebuilt through hard work and determination. By learning this perspective, your child will have the resilience to face problems.
Teach how to process emotions
Teaching young children complex emotions can be difficult. Emotions are a tricky business, especially in family relationships.
When your child faces difficult emotions, teach them to have perspective and view the future with optimism. Children who can recognize and process their emotions are more likely to gain resilience and tenacity, leading to healthy emotional strength.
Your child needs to see how you process your own emotions. A very key part of child development is mimicking the behavior of the adults in their lives. A great way to help them learn is by making flashcards of emotions.
These flashcards should include:
- Descriptions of the emotions.
- Pictures of how the emotions look, both in action or facial expression.
- How to deal with them.
Prepare for changes and goals
Your child will experience a lot of internal and external changes while they grow. This can be very scary. To avoid being overwhelmed by negative emotions, prepare them by setting goals and explaining the positive aspects of the upcoming changes. The best preparation is to act them out.
When you and your child are playing pretend, try to use scenarios they may experience in real life, like dealing with difficult kids at school or a conflict with friends. This will prepare them to experience these problems in reality, without the fear of uncertainty. Seeing changes in this way aids your child to be determined and optimistic about the road ahead.
Teaching your child resilience won’t be easy, but it’s very rewarding. Through these five ways, you can build a stronger bond with your child and help prepare them for any challenges they will face. You and your child will walk hand in hand towards these difficulties, ready for the future.
It is crucial to develop these skills in resilience while they are young. Resilience can’t solve of all of their future problems, but it can make it easier to deal with them.
- apa.org – Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers
- sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Men’s Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers
- firstfiveyears.org.au – How to Prepare Your Children for Change
- pbs.org – How to raise an emotionally resilient child