From the moment our children are born, we try our best to support them to achieve milestones big and small, and to be happy. But as we know, life not only has its ups, it also throws us plenty of difficult curveballs along the way, which is why children need resilience.
Some children are naturally resilient, blessed with an easy-going temperament and a capacity to persevere in the face of a challenge. Increasingly however, we are seeing children wilt when faced with seemingly small obstacles. The good news is that you can foster resilience in your child at any age and help them cope more easily with the inevitable challenges in life.
Below are 10 things you can do to boost your child's resilience.
1. Let your child know that sometimes life just isn’t fair
Let your child know that life has its ups and downs so that they are prepared when things are not going their way. You can reiterate this by telling your children that “life is not always fair!”, when they don’t get an award, are told they’re out in handball or they don’t get the lead in the school play, for example.
2. Let your child fail occasionally
Children need to know that it’s safe to take risks by trying new things, and that it is okay to make mistakes, as mistakes often present powerful learning opportunities. If children are scared to fail, they will be less likely to persist when they are faced with challenges.
3. Allow your child to develop independence
Look at what is developmentally appropriate, and seize opportunities to let them do things on their own such as packing schoolbags, catching a bus for the first time, or making dinner for the family. If you’re unsure if something is safe for your child to try, ask parents of similar-aged children for their opinion.
4. Don’t fight all their battles for them
Unless they are in an unsafe situation, try to give children the opportunity to resolve their own conflicts. Stepping in or treating the battle as your own, will in the long-term, decrease your child’s confidence in their capacity to cope with conflicts when you are not around, for example, in the school playground.
5. Help your child become a problem solver
Help guide your child through problem solving so that they have the skills, and gain the confidence, to solve their own problems. Take the opportunity to talk through problems rather than always offering solutions.
6. Promote a ‘can do’ attitude
Bolster your children’s self-esteem by letting them know that they can do anything they set their mind to. This enables your child to feel that it is possible to overcome obstacles or challenges. This will help them face unfamiliar or challenging situations that might be good for them to experience or overcome.
7. Teach your child how to manage feelings
Help your children learn how to manage their feelings when things don’t go well for them. Feelings such as anger, disappointment and sadness are a part of life and can feel overwhelming for children and teenagers. Instead of teaching your child to avoid situations or feelings that are uncomfortable for them, there are a number of strategies, including deep/focused breathing, that your child can employ when they are feeling overwhelmed.
8. Don’t do everything for your child
While it’s in our nature to want to help our children as much as we can, don’t do absolutely everything for your child. By letting your children do some age-appropriate things for themselves, you are teaching them to be independent and building their confidence and feelings of self-worth.
9. Don’t expect too much from your child
Don’t put too much external pressure on your child to attain unrealistic goals. There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations for your child, but make sure they’re in line with your child’s abilities or you may inadvertently be setting them up to fail.
10. Maintain your own interests
Lastly, it is a good idea to make sure you maintain your own interests and passions. By doing so, it will make it easier for you to set realistic, attainable goals for your child.
Give your children space to fail sometimes, and let them do things for themselves. By allowing your children the freedom to learn and try new things, you are setting them up with coping mechanisms to deal with the wide range of challenges they will inevitably encounter in life.
Trinity Grammar School is fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, and we pride ourselves on knowing, understanding and nurturing every student to help them realise their potential, passions and purpose in life.