It is no surprise to any adult that the world is a tough place to get by in. At times it is wonderful, but during other times it can feel like everything is going wrong all at the same time. As a parent, we want our children to understand this and be prepared to handle the challenges that life throws their way.
Is it possible to do this, though, while still giving them the safe and happy childhood many of us never received? The short answer is yes. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, and it is a skill that can be developed over time without sacrificing their enjoyment of their younger years. Let’s go over some of these points now.
#1: Encourage them to take risks
Although it can be tempting to safeguard every action our kids take, encourage your kiddo to take age-appropriate risks. When children take risks, they learn how to manage uncertainty and build confidence in their abilities. Not giving the children the opportunity to try risking things – and fail or succeed on their own – will greatly hamper their ability to do so productively as they get older.
It is important to remember that not all risks are created equal. As parents, we are the ones that are going to know if a risk is too much. There are often tasks that children can think are risky that really aren’t that bad at all. I know that my nephew had a fear of microwaving food when he was younger, which was not a concern that was warranted for him in particular. Still, it served as an excellent ‘risk’ to have him take so he could learn how to manage those emotions and think clearly in what he perceived as a stressful situation.
#2: Help them develop problem-solving skills
Teaching your child problem-solving skills can help them feel more capable of handling challenges. After all, how are you going to solve a stressful problem if you haven’t even practiced handling a non-stressful problem?
Encourage them to brainstorm ideas when faced with a problem and help them weigh the pros and cons of each option. When your kiddo comes up with an answer, help them determine its effectiveness and provide guidance (without doing it for them). Over time, you can work your way into more difficult and time-sensitive problems, so that they are always challenged but not overwhelmed.
#3: Let them experience failure
Much like with taking risks, we also want to protect our children from failure wherever we can. Unfortunately, failure is an important learning experience that will help your child build resilience. When your child experiences failure, they are forced to process their emotions and learn how to not shut down. They must also figure out how to identify what they can learn from the experience.
Although it’s difficult to watch our kids experience failure, it’s better they fail under our guidance and watchful eyes than having it happen out in the world when they’re on their own. Remind them that failure is a part of growing and encourage them to try again. Offer support along the way where you can, while still allowing them to be the ones who need to take action.
#4: Teach them to regulate their emotions
Teaching your child to regulate their emotions ties back to everything we’ve talked about thus far.. Encourage them to identify and express their emotions in a healthy way. An example would be teaching them to funnel their negative emotions (anger, sadness, fear) into a creative endeavor such as journaling, drawing or building something out of their toys. Learning to connect with their motions and redirect their energies is a vital skill to have, especially since they can then later sit down and process everything a second time once they are calmer.
#5: Foster positive relationships
When in a stressful situation, nothing is worse than feeling like we have to go it alone. Strong relationships with friends and family will provide your child with a sense of belonging and support. Help your child to build positive friendships with others and provide opportunities for them to socialize. Help them develop communication skills and teach them to resolve conflicts in a healthy way with their peers. If they can build a strong support network while their young, they’re not as likely to feel like the world is out to get them specifically. Very few people can take on the world alone, so this is an important step in helping them succeed and learn resilience.
#6: Model resilience
A very common theme that we talk about. There is never success in a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. If you want your child to develop a strong and healthy sense of resilience, you must show them what that looks like.
When you face challenges, talk to your child about how you are handling the situation. Show them that it is possible to bounce back from adversity and that setbacks are a natural part of life. If they see you ask for help when you need it, then they’ll feel more comfortable doing so when they need it. Then you can be there to offer support and guidance when they face those challenges.
#7: Encourage a growth mindset
A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work and dedication. Don’t let your child get into the mindset that they can’t do something because they weren’t born talented or gifted. Hard work and consistency is what makes people successful, not some other predetermined factor.
Encourage your child to view challenges as opportunities for growth and to embrace the learning process. This will require you to effectively use many of the other tips listed above, but the result will be a child who can face down the world confidently and productively.
You Won’t Be There Forever
It does not matter how diligently we plan, or how well-thought out our strategy is. We cannot be there to support our children for the entirety of their lives. They will become adults, look to leave the nest, and eventually face problems that you aren’t equipped to solve. Even if you intend to be an integral part of their daily lives, there’s still the fact that you will likely pass on from this world decades before they do. At that point, they are the ones that will need to have the answers for themselves and their families. That won’t happen if you don’t allow them to go through some of the same trials and tribulations that you had to growing up.
Resilience is a difficult skill to learn, and an even harder one to master, but it does not have to be as painful as it was for many of us. Use the tips above to get them started on it while they are young, have no responsibilities and have your unwavering support. This will serve as an invaluable foundation for them to build upon as they grow up and begin to figure out who they want to be. From there, slowly back away and only provide support when they ask for it an feel they need it. At a certain point, they will be fully-fledged problem-solvers and you can rest assured that they’re going to be okay in this world we call home.