Struggling to figure out how to help your child navigate challenges? Resilience is the key!
How resilient is your child? If you had to rate them on a scale of 1-10 in resilience, what would you say? The answer is difficult to pin down, because resilience is different for every single person. What knocks one child to the ground is vastly different to the next child. Even with our own children, what brings one child to tears can be nothing to our other child.
Resilience is defined as "The ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like." Recover READILY is the key here. Most of us can recover from any situation given time. Resilience is the ability to readily recover from being knocked down.
Establishing a strong sense of resilience in children is key to helping them navigate the perils of school, developmental stages and everything in between.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to help your child develop their "resilience muscles"
1. Help them begin to verbalize their feelings: Children who can explain how they are feeling, frustrated, angry, sad, scared, are far more likely to be able to process those feelings and get back up when knocked down.
2. Help them to learn how to process their feelings: Children need to be given effective tools on how to then process feeling frustrated, feeling angry, feeling sad, feeling scared. They aren't born with the ability to think "I'm frustrated. I should sit down and think about what is frustrating me and how I can change the situation and feel better about it." Heck, very few adults are capable of that kind of cognitive discussion.
3. Give them tools to utilize so they can bounce back: Give them permission to step away from a situation, including disagreements with mom and dad. Give them a room or area in the house they can retreat to, center themselves and come back to the discussion. Most parents want to have the discussion right now and often, kids can not intellectually or emotionally deal with situations immediately. They need time to consider the problem and form their own response. Forcing your child into a discussion right now will only push them into a corner and trigger the fight or flight mechanism in their brain.
4. Affirm how they are feeling: You may not agree with how they are feeling, however, letting them know that you can see how they are feeling and that you understand what that emotion is. "It seems to me that you are feeling "angry/sad/frustrated" is that right? I can understand how you would feel that way." Nothing more is required. Allow your child to simply sit with those feelings and process them. More than likely, you child will engage in the discussion with you. The door has been opened and they are free to engage with you.
5. Give them room to learn: If we constantly insulate our kids from challenges, they will never learn how to face them head on and discover their own strengths. Yes, it's difficult to watch our kids navigate disagreements with their peers and discover what they will and will not tolerate in a friend. Yes, it's heartbreaking to watch your child struggle to figure out where they fit in and who they want to show up as in the world. Stepping back when our little ones topple over and need to stand up again. We want to rush to their side and fix it. Sometimes, we can give them the space to figure out that they can stand back up and continue on. I'm not saying you ignore your child's distress, clearly we want to be there when our kid is in distress. There is a big difference between and emergency and a challenge.
Resilient children are better able to face challenges later in life. They are able to ask for what they want in life and form their own sense of self worth. When they realize they are worthy of respect, dignity and support, they are far more likely to offer those things back to the people in their life.
Parenting can be a gerbil maze of twists and turns that make us second guess every decision we make. When we give our kids the tools to develop resilience in themselves, often the trickle down effect comes right to us! Watching our children overcome adversity is one of the greatest rewards of parenting.
What do you see your child struggling with? How have you been able to help them face a challenge and come out the victor?
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I would love to hear how you encourage resilience in your children! What do you say or do that helps them face challenges and bounce back from struggle?