Developing Resilience: Encouraging Kids to Bounce Back
1. Children aren't born resilient; they learn it
2. Teaching young children resilience sets them up a lifelong habit.
3. Encourage healthy risk taking
4. Demonstrate Resilience and Healthy Coping Skills
5. Celebrate Failures and Welcome Mistakes
Please take a moment to think about how your children react when they scrape a knee or take a small tumble. Most likely, if they're in the middle of having fun, they jump right back up again and keep going. Sometimes, there might be a few tears, and then they forget about it and move on. This is the blossoming of a resilient spirit. Kids aren't born resilient; they learn it. For example, your toddler falls on the playground, quickly glances your way to see your reaction, then reacts accordingly. In other words, if you make a big deal about it, your kid makes a big deal about it (and vice versa).
As children grow older, resilience starts to filter into other aspects of their lives, from how they handle peer pressure to a bad test grade to experiencing an emotional blow, like a death or illness in the family. How you set the stage early on for your kids to develop resilience will go a long way in handling stress in the future.
Stress Is Inevitable; Resilience Can Help
No matter how hard you try, you won't be able to protect your children from every misfortune, unhappiness, and obstacle. Bad things are going to happen; it's inevitable. Plus, what might seem like small potatoes to you can be a massive problem for a young child.
For example, you may not think it's a big deal if you have to miss Jimmy's birthday party, but your preschooler is likely horrified at the thought. However, if you work with your child to build resilience, then the situation doesn't become the end of the world. Helping kids develop the ability to navigate life's challenges, big and small, helps them handle stress more effectively. Plus, it also helps them realize they are capable individuals.
Helping Children Develop Resilience
The sooner you start teaching resilience, the better because, like with many things, it sets up a lifelong habit. Therefore, when your children are still young, consider these helpful tips to help them build resilience.
Be There for Them (But Don't Do Everything for Them)
Establish a communicative relationship with your children in which they feel comfortable coming to you for guidance. However, this doesn't mean solving their problems or taking the tough stuff off of their plates. It means to give them your full attention and then ask them questions to help guide them through possible solutions. This will help your kids develop essential problem-solving skills that can boost their resilience.
Encourage Healthy Risks
Of course, you don't want your preschooler attempting to slide headfirst down the banister. But what about sliding down the pole at the playground? Encourage your kids to take healthy risks that make them step out of their comfort zone a bit without resulting in a significant physical injury if they fail. These baby steps help your kids realize that trying something new could bring a lot of rewards, and if they fail, it's not the worst thing that can happen. In fact, they'll likely learn to try, try again, developing critical reasoning skills in the process.
Take It Outside
Speaking of healthy risks, get your kids outside and running around, whether it's on a playground, playing a sport, or just bouncing around the backyard. Not only does physical exercise help people cope better with stress, but it also allows your kids' opportunities to fall and get back up again (literally)!
Demonstrate Resilience and Healthy Coping Skills
You can tell your kids to breathe and bounce back until you're blue in the face; if you don't practice what you preach, you won't get too far. Let your children see you handle stressful situations calmly, overcome challenges, solve problems, and learn from your mistakes.
Teach your children positive ways to deal with the challenging parts of life, whether it's deep breathing, singing a song, or drawing a picture. Help your kids label their emotions, so they know how to express themselves healthily.
Celebrate Failures and Welcome Mistakes (Just Learn from Them)
There is nothing wrong with messing up and failing. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. What's important is that when it happens, you learn from it. Therefore, let your kids know that mistakes are great because they are learning opportunities. Children that don't have resilience tend to avoid trying new things for fear of failure. Encourage your child to try out things (those healthy risks) and handle whatever comes their way. Remind your children that if they get stuck, you'll always be there to help talk them through it.
Building a strong connection with your children is at the heart of anything you want to teach them. Educating AMY offers incredible products and resources that can make connecting with your children enjoyable, simple, and engaging. You can help your kids develop the skills they need to grow into confident, independent individuals.