Resilience: a short summary
It’s human nature as parents to want to protect your child from disappointments, setbacks or emotional hurt. Sometimes, however, despite your best efforts it’s not possible.
What is Resilience?
Resilience refers to an individual’s ability to bounce back from stress, challenge, tragedy, trauma or adversity. When children are resilient, they tend to be braver, more curious, more flexible, and more adaptable. They are able to thrive despite challenges. They also tend to take these qualities into adolescence and adulthood.
There is no ‘perfect’ way to be resilient. Sometimes it takes longer to recover, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes they may become emotional or upset, they may withdraw, become angry or resentful. Sometimes they won’t. And some days can be harder than others.
Being resilient doesn’t mean that your child will never experience difficulty or setbacks (this is unrealistic), however it does mean that they will be better equipped to cope or bounce back when this happens.
Imagine your child’s resilience as a GPS system. A good GPS helps you find your bearings and get back on track to eventually reach your final destination or final goal, even if you’ve taken a wrong turn or encountered a roadblock or detour.
How to increase resilience in children?
The good news is that resilience can be learned and nurtured!!!!
Below are some tips to help your child learn to be more resilient:
Be reliably present
Having the reliable presence of at least one supportive adult relationship means that your child will feel safe to make mistakes or encounter setbacks, knowing that you will be there to love and support them.
Encourage your child’s problem solving skills
Children often suffer emotionally when they feel compelled to be perfect or to succeed at the first attempt. This is both unrealistic and unhelpful.
When your child faces a problem or a setback, encourage them to problem solve instead of trying to fix everything for them. Challenge them to see all possible solutions and all possible alternatives. Remember that if Plan A doesn’t work out, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet to choose from.
Keep things in perspective and nurture optimism
Model optimism for your child and encourage them to see the glass as half full, not half empty. Being optimistic is in some ways connected to problem-solving. If you think that there is only one solution to a problem (e.g. Plan A) you’ll naturally feel defeated if it doesn’t work out. If, however, you can see that there are countless other ways, other methods, other pathways of achieving your goal(s), then you’re more likely to feel hopeful and optimistic and not give up. Ensure that you help your child keep things in perspective and look at situations in a broader context.
Promote a positive self-image
Help your child feel confident and self-assured in their own problem solving abilities and emotional strength. Avoid putting your child down or comparing them to others. Encourage your child to turn their weaknesses into strengths. If your child is not good at one particular thing, encourage them to see that they have strengths in other areas.
Have a sense of humor
Have you ever noticed how having a laugh or joke can bring you out of a bad mood? This is because laughter or finding light in even the darkest situations can diffuse stress and bring about emotional release. Encouraging your child to find moments of humor and relief can help them put things into perspective.
Encourage your child’s independence and self-reliance
Learning to be autonomous and self-reliant brings confidence and experience and lets your child know that they are capable. Give your child some autonomy by assigning small jobs or tasks that they can do on their own.
This means encouraging your child to connect with something meaningful or important to them. This may include friends, family, pets, the community, or it may even include connecting with books, music, or film.
Written by: Ms Kim Dang, psychologist at ACPC