Many changes and uncertainties affect the emotional building blocks of children. There is always some bad news from somewhere. Children have more choices now than they ever did, and the choices keep increasing. It has become increasingly relevant that parents and teachers help children to be resilient to help them function better in this era and beyond.
How do you know if your child is resilient?
Resilience is the process of handling stressful situations well and bouncing back to the pre-stress or pre-trauma emotional stability or mental wellness. If your child is resilient, he will grow through his challenges. The resilient child is courageous, optimistic and positive. He will seek necessary assistance. Likewise, he is happy to achieve or complete a task. The resilient child is able to connect easily with others, and is willing to share with others. Such a child is flexible and easily adapts to change. He has self-control and skills to solve problems.
How to help your child build resilience
Some of the ways you can help your child to build resilience are suggested below.
- Encourage your child to learn new things, and allow him to make his own mistakes and learn from those mistakes. For example, you should allow your child to achieve homework independence early in life, preferably by the time he is 8 years old or even earlier depending on the child. If he sometimes gets it wrong, at least he has learnt what is wrong so he knows not to repeat it. This doesn’t mean you should not offer help when asked, but give room for your child to decide whether to ask for your help or not. And when he asks for help, help him, don’t do it for him.
- Allow your child to experience negative emotions such as sadness and disappointment. As he goes through this, guide him to understand that not even negative emotions are permanent.
- Give your child room to take reasonable risks. Allow your child to try out for the school play or the football team, or to try befriending the new child in class. Worst case scenario, he may not get picked. However, by trying, your child has gained confidence and if rejected, you have been presented with a teachable moment. You have the chance to help him to deal with a negative emotion.
- Teach your child to be able to control the way he responds to situations he cannot change. So, someone in class doesn’t like your child? But other people do, right? Point out to your child that they have no control over whether people like them or not, but they can control how they behave, which is to try to be nice to everyone. And it’s not always their fault if people don’t like them. Has your child done poorly on an exam he really prepared for? Well, he cannot change the grade. But hopefully, he can learn a lesson or two from it.
- Validate the fears of your child and help him to plan actions to deal with them. It is normal for your child to feel anxious before a performance in front of the whole school, or before a major exam. Don’t downplay or brush aside his anxiety. You can use this moment to teach your child about managing stage-fright, or how to use the allotted time judiciously during an exam, for example, by tackling easier questions first.
Helping your child build resilience is an investment into his future. By building resilience, our children are prepared for whatever challenges life brings. They learn, and they grow.
Written by Edwin Boachie-Yiadom, Clinical Psychologist.
Edited by babychildandco team.