What is resilience and why is important to our children?
• Resilience is the ability people have to recover from setbacks quickly and in children it is extremely important. Most parents I deal with, if they were able to pick a trait they would love their children to have, it is the ability to deal with things when they go wrong or don’t go as well as expected, and can adapt to any situation that they find themselves up against. Ultimately this is resilience.
• The people who are successful in any walk of life are the people who, even when they are knocked down, believe in their own ability to achieve and can pick themselves up and “get back on the horse”. Resilience is just as important as natural ability.
How can we build resilience in our children?
• First things first, we are all individual and we all learn skills in slightly different ways. The list below is a toolbox of techniques that could work for your children.
• Your child has some resilience skills already! That’s right, your child begins building their ability to cope with pressures from day one. Also remember, your child will hone their resilience skills, not only through interactions with you, but through friends, relatives, teachers, coaches and peers. This can be quite a reassurance for parents.
• Doing everything for your children will slow the development of their resilience. We all learn from doing things for ourselves, but if we block our children from learning how to complete tasks and be successful at it, this can stunt their progress. Obviously it will be important to be there for them if they need a little help but don’t take over.
• Little victories are extremely important. Your child will achieve things and while you don’t need to go overboard in the praise of these, it will be important to help them to recognise HOW they achieved these victories.
• Get them involved in helping others. Volunteering is the bedrock of many communities and provide volunteers with a serious sense of self-worth and belonging, two very important aspects of resilience.
• Trusting your children will help them trust themselves. Allowing your kids that bit of leeway to try new things and build their confidence is really important. It can be as simple as letting them walk to the shop or school on their own. If issues do arise, again, instead of giving the solutions, get them to explore the potential solutions with you.
• Sometimes straight after something has happened or not gone as well as your child had hoped, give them a little bit of time to process it in their own heads before delving into solutions.
• Be enthusiastic but realistic. “You were the best player on the pitch sweetheart!” when they have been substituted after 20 minutes is not much use to your child. All it will do is make them believe you less. If all the evidence tells your child that they have had a bad game or things haven’t gone there way, you can start with an open-ended question like, “how are you feeling after that game?” This allows your child the space to talk about their feelings, if they wish.
• Remember that your child’s feelings are real for them, so if they are frustrated or upset about how an event has gone, explore with them, what they could do differently if they are in a similar situation again. If they struggle with this, give them a number of different options and let them pick the one that works for them. You can then go on to talk about what they need to do to put this option into action.
• Teach your children relaxation & mindfulness techniques. We can all do with learning skills to calm ourselves down and keep things in perspective. There are lots of simple relaxation tools online, get them and learn them with your child.