As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy, healthy and resilient kids.
Some days we kick goals. Other days we only just make it through to bedtime without running for the hills (without the kids, of course).
But raising our little ones isn’t just about just keeping them happy, healthy and relatively clean. We also need to ensure we are raising them to be confident individuals who possess the tools to tackle whatever obstacles stand in their way. And this, my friends, is where resilience comes in.
Raising Resilient Kids – Tricks to Try
Remove the bubble wrap
It is our natural instinct to want to protect our babies, no matter what their ages. We want to remove the hazards, keep them out of harm’s way and eliminate anything that may emotionally hurt them.
But here’s the thing. Your child is strong. By tackling obstacles for them, we’re not letting them learn how to handle these risks on their own. We are not giving them the chance to build resilience, to persevere and to try new things without the fear of failure.
They need to lose a race. Or fail a test. Or screw up. Then they need to find the courage to keep going and try again. And again. And again.
So, as hard as it is, stop ploughing away the problems for them. Let them navigate them for themselves.
Stand close and support
In order to have the confidence to give things a go, kids need to know you’re behind them and will catch them if they fall. Guide them through difficult situations with plenty of positive words, praise and advice.
Teach them to problem solve
Such an important lesson! The problems your kids will face will continue to change but the process of problem-solving remains pretty much the same.
Rather than solving the problem for them, talk to them about what the issue is, what their options are and how they can fix it.
Build their confidence
One way to do this is to be your child’s biggest cheerleader. Celebrate their accomplishments and their strengths and encourage them to participate in activities that they enjoy.
Focus on effort over the result
Just make sure you’re not focusing on them being the best or winning, but rather on the effort that they put in and the attitude that they display.
Give them things to do
This sense of responsibility will not only help them grow confident in their abilities, but it’ll also give them a sense of pride and accomplishment. And don’t be fooled into thinking your kids need to be school-aged before you can teach them responsibility. Check out these simple at-home chores your toddler can help you with.
Help them prepare for change
Change is scary for us adults. Imagine what it’s like for kids! But change is inevitable and thus it’s better to teach them how to handle change rather than hide away from it.
The best way to do this?
Always think positive. When faced with a change (switching schools, moving house, changing sports’ teams), focus on the good things about this change and what it can mean for them. Promote the ‘glass half full’ mentality, rather than the ‘glass half empty’.
Get control of those tricky emotions
All kids need to feel vulnerable, overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated from time to time. These are perfectly normal emotions. The key is to help children identify these emotions, accept them and move past them without letting these emotions get the better of them.
Here how you can do this:
- Identify – talk to your kids about the range of emotions so they are able to determine what’s happening and why they feel that way.
- Empathise – show that you understand how they feel, that these emotions are okay and that you are there to help them.
- Reflect – look for strategies to handle these emotions. Calming activities can help, as can positive praise, self-reflection, encouragement and taking a bit of time out.
How do you handle challenges? Do you remain calm and practical or do you turn into a big ball of stress that just consumed an entire block of chocolate in one sitting? (Guilty)
Can you take failure on the chin or do you cower in the corner with a bottle of wine? (Also guilty)
Do you discuss your concerns in a rational way or rant off a list of curse words that leaves you owing the swear jar an excessive amount of coin? (Definitely guilty).
Try to practice what you preach when it comes to facing obstacles. Or, in the very least, wait until after the kids go to bed before you turn to the chocolate or have a complete meltdown.
Resilience is the new black
There isn’t a trick to building resilience in kids, unfortunately. You can’t just snap your fingers and whammo, your kids are now resilient and ready to tackle the world.
But try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Odds are, you’re already doing an awesome job at it, even if you sometimes feel otherwise.
All kids are going to have days where they throw epic tantrums or want to quit or to need you to pick up the pieces and wipe away the tears. It’s all part of the journey to resilience. So just keep swimming, mums. You and your kids will get there.