Believe it or not, our children are resilient. We don’t need to teach them to be resilient. Instead, we need to build their resilience. It is like a muscle that needs to be used and exercised to become stronger and better.
So – how do we do this? How do we build our children’s resilience?Firstly, what is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back (or better said, bounce forward) from what life has thrown at you. We can’t protect our children from ever experiencing trauma, sadness, fear or disappointment. But we can prepare and equip them for it!
So much can be said on this topic! Here are just a few tips that I’ve picked up from hearing professionals speak on this subject and through my own parenting journey.
We can build resilience in our children by:
- Teaching them problem-solving (or coping) skills. For example, instead of doing a chore for them, do it with them. Encourage them in turn-taking, listening skills, waiting. This can be done in normal daily activities or, more intentionally, as you play a board game together, or bake a cake. When they are frightened, such as after they’ve hurt themselves, help them work through the fear. When they are hungry, if it is appropriate, have them wait until the next meal or morning or afternoon tea.
- Giving them safe risk-taking opportunities. Let them climb trees, ride bikes, go down slides, climb into the car – teaching them how to do it properly!
- Having warm, caring relationships with our kids. Spend time with them. Listen to them when they are talking to you, cuddle them and console them. And encourage them to have relationships with other significant adults, together with good peer relationships. Get them involved in extra-curricula activities, sports, clubs, dance groups.
- Ensuring your home is one of accord, not discord. Low parental discord contributes to resilience.
- Promote positivity. Through the promotion of positive psychology – a spirit of gratefulness and optimism will build resilience.
- Ensuring our children are getting adequate sleep and exercise. Take your kids to a local playground or to the pool. Rug them up in the cold months for a play in the sandpit or as you walk to kinder. Let your little ones crawl around on the floor or lie and kick their legs in the air!
Next time you meet with your mum friends, share ideas on how to build resilience in your kids. Unfortunately we now live in a world where not only adults but children are diagnosed with clinical anxiety and depression. One way to reduce the incidence of this is to help our kids, and encourage each other, to become more resilient so that, as a community, we can be healthier, happier and stronger.
MOPS Field Leader