A cancelled picnic, lost soccer match or a change in school- it’s an understatement to say that life these days is a bit hectic for kids. Over scheduled days with an added social media life, twenty-first century kids face different challenges than those just a few decades ago. And this makes building resilience even more important for ensuring our kids are future ready.
While some kids are resilient by nature, not every child possesses this Life Skill. But the good news is that resilience can be nurtured and developed.
5 Ways to Encourage Resilience in Kids
1. Show them a different perspective – a positive one
An optimistic and positive outlook enables nurturing resilience in kids. Even when your child is facing very painful events, help him look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. If your child is too young to consider a long-term look on his own, try to show them a different perspective – a positive one. This doesn’t mean you discredit the way they feel, but rather give them a fresh take on the situation. Make use of such ‘teachable moments’ to inculcate optimism.
2. Be a guide, not a Saviour
As parents, it’s an inbuilt trait to help our kids and equip them with what they need to succeed. But how much help can be too much, that’s a fine balance to be maintained. Sometimes taking a step back can be the best way to teach resilience. In case of a crisis or a certain setback, allow your child to manage it and overcome it on their own. You can be there to listen and encourage, but ensure there are times for them to step up. And by now you may know that failure is not fatal! So, don’t rush to their rescue. Avoid accommodating every need. Don’t be an over-protective (Helicopter) parent.
3. Change is the only constant!
Change often can be scary for children. A new school, shifting to a new city or may be just a change in the class teacher- help your child see that change is a part of life and new situations come with new opportunities and goals.
4. Acknowledge their feelings and then talk about the ‘hows’ of a problem (instead of the ‘whys’)
Feeling is natural. No matter what, your kids will feel. But instead of ignoring & shunning your child’s reaction to a problem or situation, acknowledge the same and discuss the way ahead. Brainstorming, evaluation options and deciding which is better would help your child look ahead in life. For example, if plans are cancelled and they’re upset about the situation, ask them what they can do about it. Help them focus on what they can do, and not what they can’t do.
5. Be a Model
Of course your children look up to you and learn from observing your behaviour. They watch how you handle situations – good or bad. In such case, try to be calm and consistent. Seeing it firsthand from their role model, will help them understand resilience and eventually incorporate it. Ultimately your attitude as a parent impacts on their ability to bounce back from some of the difficulties they face. Make sure you model a ‘you can do it’ attitude for your child.
Building resilience, the ability to endure and recover from hardship, is a critical Life Skill that can serve you throughout your life. It makes a big difference in one’s life. Children who respond to hardships with resilience are healthier, happier and more successful in life.
And remember, resilience is the ability to recover easily from adversity. And it is not about never falling down. It’s about getting back up again…and again…and again.