Why is building resilience important?
Resilience is a child’s ability to cope with difficult or stressful situations. Building resilience helps children not only to deal with current difficulties, but also helps to develop the skills and habits that will help them deal with challenges later in life, during adolescence and into adulthood.
Here are some ways to help your child to build their resilience.
When your child is not feeling happy, identify ways in which they can comfort themselves or make themselves feel safe and happy. This might be reading, painting, talking to you about their worries, watching their favourite movies or playing with their friends.
Notice when your child is feeling sad, tired or angry and explain that you understand how your child is feeling.
Encourage them to be kind to themselves with their thoughts and actions. We teach children to be kind to others, but it is important to teach children to always be kind to themselves too.
Praise and recognition are a good way to boost your child’s confidence, this in turn will help them build their self-esteem and sense of competence.
Allowing your child to have independence and overcome challenges can help them to build on their confidence and will allow for your child to feel strong in their decision making.
Promote positive attitudes and ways of thinking in your child.
Maintain healthy relationships with your child’s teacher, child-minder, instructor or coach; this helps to show your child they have a wide support network and feel supported in all that they do.
Work with this support network to ensure your child is reaching their full potential, even when something may not be going well.
Routines and stability in your child’s life allow them to feel safe and secure.
A good night’s sleep will help your child react more quickly to situations and solve problems. When feeling tired any challenges will feel twice as hard.
In order to develop resilience for later in life your child will need to experience small losses early on.
Teaching your child that it is ok to lose, then motivating them to try again can encourage them to work harder and to develop their understanding that not getting everything they want instantly is perfectly normal.
From an early age encourage your child to express how they are feeling, this may not always be verbal, they may want to draw a picture or write down their feelings. Drawing faces with expressions on and asking your child to point to how they are feeling can help start a conversation.
As a family practice expressing yourselves openly, for it to become the norm. Flash cards can be a good way to get younger children to open up a conversation.
Praise your child for telling you how they feel and ensure that they always feel listened to. When your child feels they have somewhere they can express themselves openly, they will feel less stressed.
Sometimes what you hear from your child can make you want to react with a correction in their behaviour. Pause and think before you speak, consider how you can help your child understand for themselves, try to be non-judgemental and create a safe space where they can always express themselves.
Helping your child develop coping strategies from a young age is another way of building resilience and helping your child to learn how to make challenging situations easier. Coping strategies for your child could include activities such as:
- Listening to music
- Time with a pet
- Snuggles with parents and grandparents
- Building a dream catcher to catch any bad dreams or thoughts
- Writing a diary
- Going on a walk
- Squeezing a stress ball
- Using a thought bin to dispose of any bad thoughts
- Creating a worry box, where your child can put a worry that you can check and then talk to them about
Children pick up on when adults are unhappy or seem as though they are not coping.
Demonstrating that you face challenges, but tackle them with positivity allows your child to develop an optimistic approach to any stresses in their life and helps them understand that it’s OK for things to not go as they expected.