Building resilience in our children is critical. They not only need these skills now but they will need them as they face the challenges they encounter in the future. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children.
- Build strong relationships. To be resilient, children need to know that the adults in their world have their best interest at heart. Having a caring adult in their lives gives children the opportunity to develop the skills they need to cope with stress. Let them know that you believe they have what it takes to cope with challenges that come their way.
- Listen to your children. Don’t try to jump in and solve the problem. Let them talk. The more they talk, the more ideas form and the closer they come to solving their problems.
- Nurture creativity. Problem solving often requires thinking outside the box-which is the definition of creativity. Encouraging creativity and incorporating it into the activities your children participate in will make them more confident of trying unique ideas to cope with stress and challenges. Help them discover there is often more than one way to approach challenges.
- Let Them Know They are Capable. We all want to be good at something, but it takes practice and patience. As your children get better at a task note their improvement and compliment them on mastering a skill. Let them know you believe in them. Encourage them as they work through the process and tell them working hard on learning the new skill is as important as reaching it, and you know they can do it.
- Attitude Matters. Resilient people are generally optimistic people. A child can be taught to be more optimistic by being reminded of the positive that can be found in most situations. If your child seems to always see the negative side of things, acknowledge what they are feeling and then show them other ways to look at it. Often a disappointment can lead to new doors being opened.
Resilient children are not afraid of taking on a challenge or becoming devastated because something didn’t go their way. They believe they can handle the problem and if not, they have supportive adults in their lives who will help them if they need it. They see their world as full of possibilities and not barriers. Resilient children can dream a dream and believe they can make it come true.
By Barbara Smith, Director, Utah Family Partnership Network