Children possess an innate resilience as they stumble, fall, and cry but get up quickly. Their cries and failures change into laughter in no time. But, this innate tendency may even reverse if not allied with the positive growth mindset. Parents’ support is an instrumental factor in raising a resilient kid. Some parents do it effortlessly while others find it challenging.
Not sure about how to help your child achieve this?
Stick to this guide till the end…
What Is Resilience, and Why Is It Good for Kids?
How often have you witnessed your child’s reaction to situations like bullying, family breakdown, welcoming a new sibling in the family, etc.? Although every child behaves differently, most of them can adapt to changes and move forward. It is the foundation of resilience that children possess.
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Resilience is the ability to withstand difficult situations, learn from them, and bounce back stronger. When children are resilient, their ability to recover from setbacks gives more room for confidence building. Such children are good at problem-solving and learning new skills. They don’t usually fall back on challenges thrown at them. Rather, they become more willing to try new experiences until they achieve their desired success.
The factors behind resilience are emotional stability and the ability to view difficult situations as a means to learn and grow. Once kids know how to thrive in tough times without losing their calm and get on their feet quickly again, this is when they become resilient.
As a result, such children are more likely to tackle challenging situations in healthy ways, i.e., without getting aggressive or intentionally hurting themselves and others. They tend to have better mental and physical health than their counterparts.
Related Reading: Signs of Childhood Emotional Neglect and How to Deal with it
Is Resilience Same for Every Child?
The degree of resilience differs from child to child. While some children overcome setbacks and problems in no time, others take too long to bounce back. For example, during a reading session in class, a child fumbled 10 times and Child B fumbled 5 times. Child B felt low in confidence and developed an increased hesitation over time, and while Child A fumbled more than Child B, the former was able to sail through because he decided to give reading strategies to improve himself- this is resilience.
Moreover, children with anxious temperaments, learning, or any other disability might take longer to get back on their feet. They may find the situation more challenging than other children. However, with positive growth mindset training, any child can achieve a greater degree of resilience.
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Factors Related to Resilience in Kids
Researchers have found several factors contributing to positive outcomes in at-risk children. These are Resilient factors- a group of variables that promises resilience and better health outcomes in children. Simply put, with these variables in place, a child can adapt positively to different circumstances.
Resilience Factors can be grouped into 3 categories – Family, Community and Individual. Although these groups of variables vary in nature, they serve an almost similar function, i.e., connection with supportive people.
Here are some examples within each group that help kids to adapt:
- Effective parenting style
- Minimal family stress
- Sense of belongingness
- Sense of safety
- Zero drugs or alcohol consumption
- Sound parental mental health
- Close community
- Honest support from extended family members
- Strong relationship with a mentor
- Emotional support and engagement with siblings
- Safe neighborhood
- Friendly school experiences
- Extracurricular activities
- Physical health
- Higher cognitive competencies
- Adaptive emotional skills
- Communication and social skills
- Having the ability to dream and set goals
- Easy temperament
- Favorable genes
Parents and Resilience in Children – The Connecting Link
The foundational aspects of resilience in children lie with their parents. Inculcating a positive growth mindset from a young years helps boost the confidence and self-esteem of children. Since parents are the first caregivers of a child, their moral support plays a crucial role in raising a resilient kid. While this may be easier said than done, consistent efforts from parents equip children with the skills required to handle the unexpected.
Famous psychotherapist Lynn Lyons remarks that, unlike the cultural approach that focuses on making children comfortable at all costs, parents must teach them to face the hurdles with arms open. It makes way for a greater degree of resilience in children.
Moreover, the children also learn about emotional strength from their caregivers by observing how the latter reacts to curve balls in life. So, next time when you are in a challenging situation, make sure you behave in the way that you want your children to.
Related Reading: Compassionate Vs. Empathetic – Why Both Are Important for Kids
10 Ways To Raise Resilient Children
Resilience is a skill that can be acquired. Teaching kids resilience is no easy task, but it can be done with the right tips. So here is the secret to raising a resilient kid:
1. Make a Strong Emotional Connection
Children are pure, gentle souls who develop life skills within the context of the caring relationship. And how else could anyone care for them more than their parents? To build an emotional connection with your children, you must put down your smartphone and start paying attention. Parents should spend one-on-one time with their children, which would aid them in sailing through tough times in life. Consequently, children will feel more empowered, making room for higher confidence and improved resilience.
2. Maintain a Daily Routine
As a rule of thumb that we get from one of the pillars of strength, younger children should be encouraged to follow a routine consistently. The younger development years are crucial for adding structure in the later stages of life, which can be accomplished by sticking to the routine.
Parents should work out a simple routine encompassing sound sleep, required physical activities, time for leisure, school homework, and one-to-one family sessions. Even so, avoid making a rigid timetable. During the days of distress, parents can allow for routine flexibility to lend some extra hours of leisure or transitional activities.
3. Encourage Healthy Risk-Taking
All parents work hard to give a good life to their children. However, life is not always a bed of roses and downs and distress in life are inevitable. Therefore, it is important to encourage your child to take healthy risks in life.
Healthy risks push children out of their comfort zone. Make it a habit to encourage your children to pursue a new sport, participate in a speech or debate competition, dance in the theater play, etc. The more comfortably they embrace risks, the more resilient they become.
4. Promote Acknowledgement
Do you know a little word of appreciation goes a long way in boosting morale? You do. As a parent, allow your child to recognize and acknowledge all the good they have. Teach them that bad times and good times are two faces of a coin. Being in a bad situation now automatically promises a good time in the future.
It is important to turn the focus of your child towards what they have and not what they cannot have. Once they learn to recognize the good, they will never fall back. Parents can build this habit through little moments in life, for example, while at a family dinner, you can encourage each member to share a good deed they did.
5. Teach Emotion Labeling
Let us accept the fact that the mental health stigma has robbed us of many emotional labels in the past. But, with changing times and eras, mental health has garnered more positive responses. Parents must necessarily teach their children about different types of emotions. When children can identify their emotions, they are less likely to act them out.
For example, if a child says ‘’I am mad”, he is less likely to kick or throw something in anger. When you let your child talk about emotions, this makes it easier to explain them without an unnecessary ruckus. Consequently, they will become more expressive and resilient.
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6. Encourage Problem-Solving
We all need help sometimes, and it’s okay to take help from others. Problem-solving does not mean completely erasing reliance on others but to teach children about weighing the pros and cons of every problem that comes at their doorstep. Brainstorm the problem-solving ideas with your children to address the challenges.
Please do not rush to solve problems or give solutions to your child. It will never allow them to move out of the cocoon. Instead, you can discuss with them the potential consequences of each possibility that would aid them in landing on the best way out.
7. Develop Coping Mechanisms
While this may sound too psychologically inclined, letting your child understand coping mechanisms can do wonders for their mental health. Firstly, teach your child that feeling overwhelmed or carrying an emotional suitcase is normal. As soon as they can normalize this concept, they can be redirected towards following coping mechanisms accordingly.
Parents can lend a helping hand and ask questions like ‘how can I help you?’ or ‘what is troubling you?’. Moreover, they must let their child practice mechanisms like walking in the park, taking deep breaths, doing a hobby, venting negativity, etc. It will help them focus not on problems but on solutions, eventually building up their resilience.
8. Motivate Your Child to Help Others
Are you wondering how this might help to build resilience in your child? Well, according to psychology, children who feel weak can feel empowered by lending a helping hand to others. To achieve this, parents must encourage children to take up small tasks at homes such as setting up the dining table, gardening, snow cleaning, to name a few.
When you keep them involved in small assistive tasks like these at home, they may find a natural penchant for helping others outside. It will help develop a sense of empathy in them and shape them into resilient and kind individuals.
9. Embrace Mistakes
Children who avoid failures lack resilience and are highly anxious. It often happens when parents focus on results, leaving children caught in the vicious pass-or-fail cycle. An important step in raising a resilient kid is to embrace your mistakes first.
When you, as a parent, start accepting your mistakes, this will promote a similar mindset in children. Teach your children that it’s okay to fall and make mistakes. Focus on previous experiences on how you overcame a particular situation. A failure is a noteworthy event in life that teaches perseverance to children.
10. Help Them Accept Change
Changes are a part of life, but they can often be scary for young children. Parents should help their children to understand that nothing is permanent and still in life. Give them real-life examples such as getting promoted from one grade to another every year, losing and making new friends, throwing broken toys and replacing them with new ones, etc.
As a result, children will be able to examine what matters in life and what does not. Such guidance would allow them to prepare for life changes, ultimately making them resilient to challenging situations.
Related Reading: Kindness Activities for Kids to Develop Positive Values
4 Pillars of Resilience
A resilient child example can be found in the ability to take constructive criticism without being discouraged. Here are 4 pillars of resilience that parents must know:
1. Physical Pillar of Strength
The two important components of the physical pillar are exercise and diet. Workout in kids helps build resilience by improving brain function and energy bank. However, parents must be aware of the required calorie and physical exercise for their children as they differ with age.
2. Mental Pillar of Strength
A sound mental state goes a long way in achieving a higher degree of resilience in kids. Since sleep is of paramount importance in keeping a healthy mental state, parents should never let their children compromise with sleep for anything, including studies. In addition, indulging your young ones in brain teasers and brain activities like puzzles, Rubik’s cube, riddles for kids etc. help keep their neurons firing and build resilience.
3. Emotional Pillar of Strength
The art of handling emotions is crucial in building resilience. Parents should equip their children to recognize and label different emotions. Happy, mad, sad, nervous, excited, angry- they should know it all! Once they master this, you can use more motivation to develop emotional strength in children.
4. Spiritual Pillar of Strength
Parents must have the clarity that spirituality is not entirely about religion to begin with. The belief in values and ethics is what drives spirituality. Hence, they should help their children find their purpose in life while staying grounded and focused.
Related Reading: Empathy vs Sympathy: How to Raise an Empathetic Child
The Journey of Resilience
Resilience is not a measure of adaptability. It can neither be quantified nor generalized. Developing resilience is a personal journey- for parents and children both. While some parents may find it easier to build resilience in their children, some may face barriers to achieving the same. An approach to building resilience that might work for other parents may not work for you.
But do not let this dishearten you. Keep putting your best forward; with the help of these tips, raising a resilient kid becomes easier. An important point to remember is that do not force anything on yourself and not even your child as it will harm you and your relationships in the long run. If your child seems stuck or unable to get through the tips above, consider a psychologist or a mental health professional. Never shy away from seeking guidance.
Resilience is being able to bounce back from stress, trauma, adversity, tragedy, etc. The good news is that resilience can be nurtured in children by strategizing and following some tips. The relevant experience from parents or other caregivers may help shape the characteristics of a child in a way that builds their resilience.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do I Answer My Child’s Questions During Challenging Times?
Firstly, understand that it’s okay to not have all the answers at all times. Learn to say ‘‘I don’t know but…”. But when you have an answer, it should emphasize the truth and not exaggerated stories. Assure your kids that you love them the most and that they will have your support and back no matter what.
For example, your child asks “Mom, what is going to happen now?”. You must smile and say, “I don’t know, dear. As long as we are together, we will be able to sail through it. We are kind and brave enough to overcome tough situations.”. Such answers give hope to young minds to model a similar approach whenever they encounter setbacks in the future.
Does Resilience Mitigate Emotional Setbacks in Children?
No way! Resilience and Emotional Setbacks are two different poles. If your child is being emotional and showing up for his pain or distress by crying, let him cry. Psychologists say that if a child can cry openly, it’s a sign of sound mental health.
Even we as adults often feel burdened with emotions and end up venting our distress in the form of tears, scribbles, or just sharing the pain with a well-wisher. All in all, being resilient is about bouncing back from trying situations with a positive, growth mindset. It has nothing to do with mitigating emotional setbacks or distress.
Can a Child’s Peer Group Help in Raising a Resilient Kid?
Yes. A child’s peer group, in school or neighborhood, is one of the community protective factors for building resilience. Children are great observers, so they tend to grasp their friends’ behavior often and quickly. Social support is associated with higher positive outcomes and strengthening resilience. Moreover, the connection with peers is instrumental in building a sense of empathy and improving listening skills in children.