In today’s rapidly changing world, it’s more important than ever for parents to raise resilient kids who respond to life’s challenges with confidence and optimism. Every child is different, and some may experience more difficulty in learning how to bounce back from a struggle than others. However, the following parenting tips have proven effective at helping most children grow into resilient, independent adults:
Explore and Reaffirm Feelings
Feelings are central to life; they influence how we respond to different situations, how we interact with other people, and even how we think about ourselves. Accordingly, being able to understand and manage your feelings is an important part of developing resiliency.
To help your child gain this valuable life skill, you should aid them in exploring and explaining their own feelings, especially when they are facing stressful situations. Additionally, you should teach them that just because we experience certain feelings, that doesn’t mean that we have to act on them. By doing this, you will show them that although fear, frustration, and other negative emotions are valid, they should not stop them from persevering through difficult experiences.
Allow Space for Struggle
Similarly, it’s very important to allow room for your children to experience these negative emotions. In some instances, a parent’s desire to guard and care for their children can turn into overprotectiveness, which blocks children from learning how to deal with difficult scenarios.
For example, if a child is struggling to build a lego structure and their parent swoops in to build it for them, the child might come to think that all challenging situations will be solved by the parent--which certainly isn’t a healthy belief! Instead of trying to solve minor problems for your child, you should try to let them work through the problems on their own. Of course, you should provide emotional and logistical support for them as they do this, and you should absolutely step in if you suspect that the problem might cause genuine harm.
Model Desired Behavior
Above all, one of the best ways to teach your child resilience is by modeling it yourself. Studies have shown that kids tend to copy the emotion-related behaviors of the adults in their lives--especially their parents. As an example, if you respond to an inconvenience such as a traffic jam by complaining, shouting, or swearing, then your child will copy that behavior when dealing with their own problems. Therefore, you should monitor your behavior in stressful situations to ensure that you’re demonstrating resilience to your child.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
Modeling resilience is often easier said than done. Parenting can be extremely difficult, and sometimes you’ll be too hungry, tired, or stressed to keep up a positive face.. When this happens, turn the situation into a learning opportunity by sitting your child down and owning up to your mistake. Tell them that you try to practice patience and good problem solving, but it can sometimes be challenging, and your feelings occasionally get the best of you. However, make it clear that this is not an excuse for your behavior, and that you plan to work on fixing your mistake and becoming more resilient. This will teach your child that although slipping up is a normal, healthy part of life, they still need to learn from their mistakes and apologize when they hurt someone. Along with the other tips provided here, this will help them become compassionate, determined, and competent adults.