Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress such as: family and relationship problems, serious health problems, workplace and financial stressors. Resilience is not a quality which you either possess or you don’t. We are all born with the capacity for resilience and it is something we work on throughout our lives. Children’s resilience can be built since the very early stages of childhood by providing them with a secure and caring relationship that helps them get through life’s challenges. Parents are the most important people to help build children’s resilience. By modelling resilience through every day interactions, children learn positive ways to handle stress and to recover from set-backs. The following are some tips of what you can do as a parent to help your child be more resilient.
- Show affection and attention – When children feel loved and connected they develop a sense of worth. They are able to believe in themselves because they know that someone believes in them and loves them unconditionally.
- Listen and understand – By finding time to listen to your child and show genuine interest in their lives children feel understood and accepted. In this way they start to listen to other people and attempt to understand them in return.
- Stay calm and be patient – If you manage to stay calm during stressful situations, children will learn to do so as well. Learning how to cope with stress and to problem solve are important skills which help children to deal with difficult situations in their life. When you are patient with them, children learn to wait and develop patience themselves. In life, they cannot always have whatever they desire. Thus, learning to be patient is very important as it reduces the chances of becoming entitled.
- Stop and re-think – Whatever you do in life will bring along consequences which may be both positive and negative. Children need to learn that their actions will have consequences. Thus, they need to stop and think before acting. This will avoid them getting into unnecessary trouble.
- Be positive – Life is not always good and fun, bad experiences also happen to us. However, if you learn to appreciate the positives in life and to look at the bright side of situations, life can be slightly easier and more exciting. By modelling this to children they learn to be more optimistic about life and to avoid focusing on the negative aspects of life.
- View mistakes as okay – At some point we all make mistakes in life and this is okay. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Thus, when your children make mistakes encourage them to keep trying and not to give up. This will help them to achieve their goals. When children focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses they can develop into confident human beings.
By being a positive role model for your child and being resilient yourselves, children are more likely to develop resiliency. Remember, behind every child who believes in themselves is a parent who believed in them first.
– Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties.