Teaching Kids of All Ages Resilience

We often think that our kids are living a carefree fun life because they don’t carry the responsibility that we do but the reality is that stress is relative.  They are dealing with enough stress for a child their age.  Kids change schools, move homes and neighbourhoods.  They get sick, make friends, lose friends and must still walk past the school bully down a very tight corridor at least once a day.

What quality can we help our children develop to deal with stress?  Resilience is an excellent characteristic to help your child to effectively problem solve these challenges.   People are not born with resilience.  The ability to recover quickly from difficulties is a learnt skill.  How can we teach kids to be resilient?  Here are a few ways.

Model Resilience

Children model their parent’s good and bad behaviour.  If parents demonstrate composed and consistent responses when diversity comes, their children will see this as appropriate behaviour and will do the same.

Ask “How” Not “Why” Questions

“How” questions promote problem-solving.  We generally know the answer to “why” questions but by asking questions like, “Your friend lied to your teacher about you.  How are you going to address this with your friend tomorrow?”

Emotional Management

Kids need to know that emotions are not bad, it’s how they react when they feel those emotions that can be wrong.  Teach them to pause and think through how they’re going to respond when they experience a particular emotion.  Teach them about appropriate and inappropriate responses.

Don’t make them too comfortable

By taking away all your child’s challenges you eliminate their chance to practice problem-solving.  Accommodating your child’s every need can also be overprotecting them.  This encourages them to be anxious rather than resilient.

Teach problem-solving

Use challenges your child faces to engage with them in figuring out how to appropriately handle the situation.  These are all opportunities for them to learn what works and what doesn’t work in various problem situations.

Teach concrete skills

Each child is unique and so are the required skills to appropriately deal with a difficult situation.  Identify the skills your child needs to overcome these various obstacles.

Don’t give all the answers

Don’t sugar coat things for your children.  Be realistic to help prepare them for what’s to come.  If your child is too scared to go to school for fear of being bullied you should avoid saying, “you won’t be bullied”.  Rather give them the tools they need to deal with a bully in case it does happen.

Resilience helps kids appropriately negotiate through the inevitable trials they will face and it prepares them for what’s to come as adults as well.  Invest in them now by teaching them to be resilient and prepare them for life.