little girl with special needs huggig womanResilience refers to the ability to recover from adverse events and cope with life’s stressors. Resilient kids tend to have higher self-esteem, take more healthy risks, and problem solve successfully.

But research shows that resilience isn’t inherently a fixed entity, meaning that children can learn and strengthen this skill over time.1 As a parent, here are some tips for you to consider.

Be Consistent

Children thrive with routine because it feels safe and predictable. As a result, you should aim to be a consistent role model in your child’s life. Ideally, they should know what to expect from you. If you’re dismissive one day but incredibly attentive the next, this disparity can be confusing.

Consistency also means staying true to your boundaries and share your reasoning with your child if they ask about certain rules. It’s okay if you decide to change your mind, but try to avoid going back and forth too many times on a particular topic.

Encourage Independence

Even if it’s tempting, try to avoid hovering or doing tasks for your child. Children need continuous exposure to moving outside of their everyday comfort zone. Having practice sharpens their creativity and reinforces critical thinking.

You can encourage independence by:

  • Offering choices, particularly with young children.
  • Giving your child household chores and permitting them to work outside the home.
  • Asking them how they want to solve particular problems.
  • Encouraging plenty of free play and exploration.
  • Describing and praising independent acts.

Identify and Validate Emotions

Let your child know their feelings matter. Avoid shaming, judging, or dismissing these emotions, even if you don’t fully understand them.

If you need clarification about how they might feel, just ask! From there, try to practice empathy and imagine how you might feel in that certain situation.

Offer Support Instead of Fixing

While you don’t want to see your child in pain, rushing to solve their problems can foster excess dependence and helplessness. Instead, try to practice validation and questioning rather than problem-solving. For example, try these scripts:

  • That does sound hard! What do you think you should do next?
  • How are you feeling about it right now?
  • What can I do to show you my support?
  • I can’t fix this, but I’m always here to listen to you.
  • How can we work together to solve this problem?

Encourage Highlighting Gratitude

Gratitude has profound effects on mental health. Gratitude can make difficult obstacles feel more manageable, and it may also boost your child’s self-esteem and relationships. 

To help your child harness thankfulness, you can model how you practice gratitude during hard times. You can also encourage a daily gratitude exercise where you all share positive moments with one another at dinner or on the way to school.

Final Thoughts

We can all strengthen how we cope with difficult times. Therapy can be an important part of building resilience, especially if a child has faced trauma or struggles with a mental health condition. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Sources

  1. https://www.tieonline.com/article/1845/resilience-a-fixed-trait-or-a-learnable-skill-#:~:text=Resilience%20wasn't%20a%20fixed,they%20had%20a%20breaking%20point.&text=The%20good%20news%20is%20that,skills%20that%20can%20be%20taught
  2. https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/