6 Ways to Raise a Resilient Child
Life's bumps and bruises can be difficult to guard against when raising children, but if you teach your kids resilience, they'll always be able to bounce back. As parents, we can't change what happens to our children, but we can equip them to deal with tricky situations. Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, opened up to Fatherly about how he teaches his children this valuable life skill. Scroll down to discover six ways to raise a resilient child who can bounce back from anything.
As a parent, it's easy to want to bubble-wrap our children and try to protect them from failure, but you might be doing them more harm then good. Donald Meichenbaum, a clinical psychologist at the University of Waterloo, argues that exposing children to a controlled amount a stress will help them develop skills to cope. "Some adversity teaches us how to deal with adversity," says Zolli. "It allows us to rehearse."
If your child scores badly on a test or loses a sports match, talk about what went wrong, and encourage positive reflection. "We actually need to say, 'Sometimes you don't win, that's okay. You're still loved by us, and you don't have to be good at everything,'" says Zolli. Next time your child experiences a setback, try talking about some of the struggles you had growing up. It'll show that failure isn't necessarily a bad thing, and that it's possible to recover.
Sometimes life throws us curveballs, and we just have to deal with them. From bumping the car to getting caught in a thunderstorm, some things are out of our control. "Giving kids a framework for understanding a why is a supercharger for resilience," says Zolli. Taking the time to talk through adversity will help them realize that sometimes we don't have control over life, but there is a way to respond to tough situations to make things feel better.
We often try to shelter our kids from seeing us in a moment of anger of frustration, but exposing them to how we respond sets an example. "The tension is that when you're parenting you don't want your kids to see you [freak out]—you want to provide a safe space," he says. "When life comes at you, vocalize, in age-appropriate language, what's going on."
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that social support plays a huge role in building resilience. Those who had strong ties to friends and family were less likely to experience the negative effects of adversity. Researchers point out that the type of friends you have makes a difference. Encouage your child to build a diverse group of friends who talk openly and have varying backgrounds to encourage empathy.
Resilience can't be taught overnight; it's an ongoing lesson that comes from life experience. Have faith that you've done all you can to set you child up with great skills, and you might be surprised to learn they're already well on their way to mastering resilience.
Find out more about helping your child bounce back at Fatherly.
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