Building resilience in children
Building resilience in children
They say children are the most resilient. Even as babies they are made to survive the falls much to the relief of new parents. Their injuries heal faster and their immunity boosts back quicker. Like physical immunity, there is also mental immunity as well. This mental immunity is called resilience. Resilience helps in bouncing back from stressful situations and helps us cope up with difficult times. Building resilience in children will be a skill set that will benefit them for the long term. It will equip your children with new ways of dealing with challenges. Building resilience in children helps them in recovering from setbacks quickly and efficiently.
Resilience and Behaviour
To understand how important resilience is, we must understand its effect on behavior. When in a stressful situation, how a child reacts shows how resilient they are. During an unpleasant situation, children go through a myriad of emotions. These emotions make them behave in different ways. Sometimes they may withdraw; sometimes they may throw a tantrum or throw things. Children of different age groups will have different levels of resilience. Their levels of resilience will often draw behavior patterns for them. It is likely that a child who has low resilience will react more strongly and have more behavioral issues. But the good news is that we can change this. There is a way to make our children more resilient. We can shape our children the right way in order to build up this resilience.
Tips to Build Resilience
Build up executive functioning
Executive functioning skills comprise of those skills that help in critical thinking, problem-solving, impulse control, organization, and emotional control. These skills will ensure that your child is able to follow instructions, regulate emotions and finish tasks without distractions. You can build this by establishing routines, encouraging creative play, providing opportunities to build social connections, and playing board games.
Listen more than you talk
Often as parents, we find it hard to listen to our kids. It is almost as if our natural instinct is to tell them to listen or continue doing a task that is more important. We are forgetting the importance of being heard. Providing a listening ear to your child will not only help you know your child better but will also help build their self-confidence. Self-confidence will further build a child’s resilience power.
It is natural for parents to protect their children from anything unpleasant. But understand that failures are stepping stones to success. Your protecting your child will not do much for their resilience. Always be there to support your child but never solve their problems for them. Give them a chance to do it themselves. Allow them to face their fears and let them know you are there for them. Resist the urge to rescue them.
Ask ‘how’ not ‘why’
When things go south, we usually ask the child, ‘Why did you do that?’. The obvious answer will be ‘I don’t know’ or something more apparent. But try to ask ‘how will you make this okay?’ or ‘What do you think you should do now?’ That will give them the opportunity to make things right and take back what they did. This will also equip them with the strategy when they are in a challenging situation. They would not think ‘why’ is this happening but ‘how’ do we make this better.
Power of Reframing
Teach your child the skill of reframing. It can change things in times of stress. Teach your child to reframe the view by not focusing on what they have lost but rather on what they have. In order to encourage reframing, it is important to acknowledge their feelings and then gently steer them towards the brighter side of things.
Keep it Moving
Understand the power of movement. Movement in form of dancing, physical exercise, or playing a game can help greatly to alleviate stress. These activities help to boost the hormones that reduce cortisol levels and increase endorphins. Using a hula-hoop, having a 5-minute dance party, throwing a ball, or jumping on a trampoline can be extremely helpful. Once your child realizes the effects of movement, they will use it to cope up with stressors.
We know that children learn through imitation. So when we expect our children to be resilient, we need to set the same example in front of them as well. Children are always watching you and will try to do what you do. It is helpful to let them into your emotions and let them know how you deal with your failures, disappointments, and struggles. Watching their parent navigate these difficult emotions and bouncing back will encourage them to do the same. You can also read this article to know more about positive parenting.
There is no feat that is achieved easily especially in the world of parenting but remember that consistency is the key. A major part of resilience is self-belief and that will come once you believe in your children. Let them know you believe in them and love them unconditionally. Remind yourself of the gift that you’re giving your children when building their resilience. It will stay with them forever.