Wednesday, 29 August 2018

How to help your child develop resilience to overcome adversity

As adults we become well versed in dealing with the trials and tribulations that life throws our way. However, try as we might to shield them, as parents there is little we can do to protect our children from life’s ups and downs. We can however do a great deal to help prepare them and to aid their development of resilience - a quality they’ll need in order to lead a fulfilling and happy life.

Raising resilient children is about providing them with the tools they'll need to respond to the issues, problems and challenges they'll face throughout their childhood and into adolescence.

With news of mental health issues in children seemingly on the rise, anything we can do to help them deal with stress and promote a positive mental outlook – even when things don’t go their way – can only help them as they navigate their way into adulthood.

So what do resilient children look like?

They’re the ones who seem to bounce back when things don’t go to plan. They’re the children who appear to be able to manage their emotions when faced with challenges and don’t let it put them off reaching for their goals. As this article from Psychology Today points out though, resilience is more than outward appearances, it’s more to do with a mindset - an understanding that to fail, is to grow. It’s quite a sophisticated outlook, so what exactly can we do to ensure our own children build the resilience they need to succeed in life?

There are a number of things we can do as parents that demonstrate what resilience looks like and encourage the resilient behaviours in our children. We have to be resilient in order to build resilience in others.

Use positive self-talk

Resilient people talk positively. They use phrases such as ‘you can do this’ and ‘you’ve got this’, rather than focus on what went wrong or what you can’t do. Look at how you yourself deal with adversity and about the language you use when faced with unexpected issues. Children will mimic the behaviours seen at home, so use positive language and remain hopeful, rather than dwell on the negatives.

Know how to manage their emotions

Resilient people are not afraid of showing their feelings or articulating them to others. It is by owning our feelings that we can work through them and determine a positive course of action to address issues we face. It’s fine to be upset, or angry, or frustrated – but use these to propel you forward, rather than hold you back. Encourage your children to talk about how they feel so that they understand how to identify and manage their emotions.

Are not afraid of change

Resilient people are not afraid to work around their plans when faced with unexpected events or interruptions. They are eager to try new things and – while they may appear disorganised – they are just happy using a trial and error approach to their daily life. Schedules are great – especially in today’s busy world – but we do have a tendency to over plan our lives and this does nothing to prepare our children for what to do if the unexpected happens.

What we need to remind ourselves is that no one – child or adult – can be expected to be resilient all of the time. That’s unrealistic. So if your child breaks down when they don’t make the football team or a favourite toy breaks, that’s a natural reaction. What sets resilient children apart is their ability to process these events and successfully move forward.

You can find more ways to develop resilience to help beat stress by visiting Mind's website.

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