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Promoting Resilience in Children

Resilience is defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks.

Are you resilient? Do you know how to promote this important attribute in your children?

The American Psychological Association suggests “10 Ways to Build Resilience”, which are: (1) maintaining good relationships with close family members, friends and others; (2) to avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems; (3) to accept circumstances that cannot be changed; (4) to develop realistic goals and move towards them; (5) to take decisive actions in adverse situations; (6) to look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss; (7) developing self-confidence; (8) to keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context; (9) to maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualizing what is wished; (10) to take care of one’s mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings and engaging in relaxing activities that one enjoys.[51] Learning from the past[52] and maintaining flexibility and balance in life[53] are also cited.

The style of parenting that we adopt, I believe, is crucial for helping children to be resilient. We need to be more democratic or authoritative, in our child-raising and be careful not to overprotect, while still providing safety and security.

Our example will be highly important, so that we can positively influence our youngsters. We can do this by helping others, being openly compassionate and empathetic and actively following a healthy lifestyle. It is vital that we avoid catastrophising, and that we teach our children that adversity is part of life. There are times when it is appropriate for us to demonstrate emotional disengagement from difficult situations or events, which will help to lower stress.

We need to promote and practise positivity, by encouraging our children regularly, and fostering independence and responsibility. Involving extended family and close friends in our children’s social experience, or care, will be of considerable benefit. This will enable our children to learn about differences and similarities in others, and to gain flexibility. We need to educate our offspring by explaining that some things can’t be changed, and that we would do well to set realistic goals for the future. The basics of financial responsibility can also be taught to children. We can take the time to choose schools that prepare our children for life; that help to develop emotional intelligence, and inspire children to be active, healthy, thinking, co-operative and inquisitive people.

By becoming more skilled at communicating, we will be able to help our children to self-disclose, to seek out help and to gain talking, listening and body language competence. We can assist them, over the years, to find meaning in trauma and to grieve appropriately after a loss.

By practising self-care and following a balanced, healthy lifestyle, we can model a beneficial way of living for our youngsters. We can show them that we value exercise, nutrition, relaxation, helping others and work. Our modelling and teaching will inspire our youngsters to realize the importance of cleanliness and order, stimulating pursuits, education, hobbies and social activities. We can show our children that we have goals, which we are moving towards, in order to motivate them to be proactive.

Children thrive in a nurturing environment, where they feel competent, loved, and supported by family and friends. It is vital that we make every effort to foster self-assurance, autonomy and caring for others. When they are subjected to stressors, we can promote a survivor attitude, rather than a victim stance. Problems can be brainstormed and actively solved individually or collaboratively. Each child is unique and has a different temperament from birth, which needs to be perceptively responded to.

Allowing our children to make mistakes, will more likely, keep them persevering and actively thinking of solutions, rather than giving up when situations are becoming tough. Expecting perfection from our youngsters is detrimental and impossible for anyone.

We need to teach our children, over the years, to manage feelings and impulses, by setting an example and by giving spontaneous explanations that they can understand.

Having high and realistic expectations for children’s behaviour, according to their level of development, will assist them to deal well with others, and to learn consideration and empathy.

It’s up to us, as parents and carers, to provide a variety of stimulating activities, including plenty of time for interacting with the environment, and to encourage participation in family life.

References: The American Psychological Association