Resiliency. It’s a word that’s spoken about frequently with psychologists working with youth – and with good reason.
Adversity is an inevitable part of the human experience. Whether due to potentially life-changing situations (e.g., having a major illness, experiencing loss, living in impoverished neighborhoods), or to more common experiences such as having trouble in school or navigating tough peer and/or family relationships — we all will face challenges in our lives that determine how we view ourselves, others, and our futures.
Being resilient means that we are able to use skills and strengths to cope and recover from adversity.
Research shows that skills such as social competence, optimism, problem solving, and emotional control can be taught, and the earlier these skills are learned the more resilient the child becomes.
Research also shows that resilient children report more favorable mental health, do better in school, and have more positive social relationships than non-resilient children.
What’s more, findings show that kids who are more resilient grow up to be more successful and healthier adults.
So with resiliency being crucial to kids’ future success, parents might be wondering if and how they can encourage their children to be resilient. As a child psychologist who spends much time in local Cincinnati high schools, parents often ask me this very question.
Here are a few tips to encourage resiliency in kids:
- Let your kids fail — within reason.
One important component of resiliency is independent problem solving. Yet there are times when problems are not easily solved or the solution didn’t work. These instances can lead to frustration and a tendency to “give up”.
Rather than solving the problem for your children, it is more helpful to support their decision and to remind them that failure happens to everyone. Even their parents! It can be incredibly helpful to acknowledge your children’s feelings and let them know that it’s okay to be upset or disappointed. Once these feelings are validated, discuss with your children what was learned from the experience and help develop an alternative solution. This strategy goes a long way in developing emotional control and self-confidence.
- Focus on acceptance and positivity.
- Model resiliency.
Fortunately kids are hard wired to be resilient and they might simply need a little encouragement along the way to help foster these important skills. Following the above suggestions can help put your child on the path to seeing some problems as things that are fixable versus out of their control.