Resilience is critical to a child’s mental health and wellbeing. When kids have coping skills, life seems bearable, even when they are faced with difficult situations, like the death of a family member, parents getting divorced or bullying at school.
Without these important skills to find a way through, kids can get stuck in a problem or emotion, feel their problems are mounting up or everyone is ganging up against them, including those who are trying to help. This can get dangerous if thoughts spiral into constant worry, anxiety or depression.
Coping skills and the ability to stay positive and keep looking for solutions are known as resilience and it’s possible for anyone to learn.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the belief that you have what it takes to keep going, no matter how bumpy the road gets. It doesn’t mean you won’t face struggles (you will) it doesn’t mean you won’t have big and difficult emotions (you will) it simply means you know that there is something great on the other side and you can make it there.
Resilience is about knowing and trusting:
- It’s okay to make mistakes
- There is a lesson to learn here
- I can give it another go
- I can try something new
- There is something bigger/better waiting when my plans don’t work out
- I can see a different point of view
- It feels great when I overcome an obstacle
Imagine these life skills being part of their everyday adulthood. How that will assist them in approaching life challenges in ways that solve problems and boost their confidence because they know that one way or another, they have got this covered.
Where Does Resilience Come From?
While some of a child’s resilience is determined by their genes and individual personality, any child can learn to build and grow their own resilience through consistent support, positive reinforcement and self-awareness at home and school and through their social clubs and community.
4 Ways To Teach Your Kids Resilience
#1 Lead by example. Parents, grandparents, teachers and community leaders are great role models for kids to learn from. We make mistakes all the time but kids don’t always get to see that side of adulthood. Talk about the mistake you made in a positive way and what solutions you can choose to try again with better results. Ask them for ideas on what you can do differently to get them thinking about a problem that isn’t theirs (therefore holds less emotion).
#2 Love them unconditionally
Sure you love your kids no matter what, but it’s not always easy for them to see that. If they get the impression that you won’t love them if they are not smart, or that you will be angry if they make a mistake, they will shy away from new challenges and stick to what is safe and known. Tell your kids you are proud of the effort they put in, and happy they gave something a go, even if the result wasn’t an A on their test or a win for their team.
#3 Talk about emotions
All emotions are good, they just don’t all feel great. Talking about emotions is important for a child to understand and manage how they feel. If expressing in words is difficult, try asking them to draw their emotion and give them plenty of blank space and colour to get the emotion onto paper.
#4 Ask open-ended questions
Instead of asking, “Did you have a good day today?” which only has a yes/no response, phrase questions in a way that gets them to think about what they discovered and learned, “What was your favourite thing about today?”.
The most crucial thing with these is consistency. Make sure your support is an everyday practice, not just when things are stressful.
It’s important to remember that all kids are unique and will show resilience in different ways. While your child might excel at showing resilience in a sporting situation, they might really struggle with applying it to their reading skills or friendships. When they see that these skills are transferable across all areas of their life, it gives them essential skills and confidence to cope with any stress or struggle as adults.