5 Ways to Nuture Resilience in your Children
Written By Michelle Hatzisavvas
Even though this term is more widely used, the true meaning is often unclear. To be resilient is to be able to “bounce back” from a stressful event or situation. Just as important, is to then identify the emotional impact. No point in bouncing back if you have not learnt something useful for next time.
We would all like our children to be resilient. As a parent, I want to know that my children’s “toolbox” of coping skills is ever growing and, that they have the capacity to pull out skills as required, to get through life’s adversities. We have a crucial role as parents to help build our child’s resilience so here are 5 ways to think about how.
Empathy is showing that you understand someone else. Be empathetic toward your child by validating when they share what they feel and what they think about things. This reassures them that you value what they say. By role modeling empathy toward others, your child will learn to ‘feel’ for others (compassion) and consider what another person may be experiencing.
Good Communication is a big area. The main ingredients here are to really listen to what your child is saying or trying to say and, to consider how you might respond. Try to respond in a way that helps your child to feel heard and understood, even if you don’t agree! By role modeling ‘turn taking’ in the acts of speaking and responding, you will promote a consultative process instead of a power struggle which can often lead to “telling” your child how to feel and what to do.
Problem Solving is one of the greatest life skills you can teach your child. This process allows for lots of learning. Encourage your child to identify the problem and come up with possible solutions. With your guidance, consult about what options may be best and help your child to choose one. It is important to then review their choice and talk about whether it worked or not and why. What a great way to empower your child and build their confidence. Sadly, I have worked with many adults that could not solve a problem if their life depended on it!
Opportunities to be responsible are great ways to increase your child’s confidence in their own abilities. This also strengthens their self-esteem. Encourage your child to help others even if only in a small way. Give your child tasks to be responsible for at home to help them value their home and what’s in it! If you believe in your child, they will believe in themselves and this positive sense of self will encourage independence and a “Can Do” attitude.
Show Love in different ways. Hearing that you are loved is wonderful but so is feeling it and getting a sense of it. Write little notes in your child’s lunchbox, get a small whiteboard for their room and write up nice messages for them to read when they get home or wake up in the morning, surprise them with little treats (homemade is great!) and praise them when they don’t expect it. These are ways to help your child feel secure and loved no matter what stresses they are coping with.
As you can see, building resilience in our children is easier than you think. With patience and understanding try out one or more of the 5 ways I have suggested to make a start.
Michelle Hatzisavvas is a Child & Family Psychologist and Mum of 3. March 2013.