8 Ways parents can learn how to build resilience in children
Give them a chance to face their own struggles and it will help them become independent, stronger adults in future.
Showing his temper when his favourite toy breaks. Throwing a fit when she isn’t allowed to snack. Today’s kids are turning into spoilt brats. Parenting styles have evolved a lot over the last century and nowadays, it’s no longer “politically correct” to call your child naughty, even! Parents wonder how to build resilience in children when they can’t even discipline then!
For kids, when things don’t go their way, it’s like all hell breaks loose. At home, this might be okay. You might be there to protect them from their “pain”. But you can’t do this forever. What happens when your kids start going to school? There will be a whole new set of problems to challenge your children then.
Parents aren’t doing their kids any favours by mollycoddling them. So what you can do is to teach them how to bounce back against these challenges. So when they grow older, they can face even tougher struggles in life. Let them make the mistakes. Let them “feel the pain”. It is only then that they will learn resilience.
Resilience is learnt through life lessons. It teaches children how to handle stress, accept rejections and understand that setbacks are simply little bumps in their journey of life.
Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and the author of “13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do “suggests these 8 ways for parents to learn how to build resilience in children.
How to build resilience in children
1. Allow kids to go through the challenge
All children can learn how to become resilient on their own. However, it’s up to you as parents to guide and help them develop the skills to be resilient. Don’t swoop in to be supermum whenever your children are struggling with something. Give them the opportunity to face the challenge on their own but be ready to talk and listen as a pillar of support.
2. Talk and empathise
Related to the above, there should be a healthy balance between empathising with their struggles and allowing your children to face their own battles. Discuss how they are feeling as they go through their struggles – it not only teaches them resilience against tough times, but also to be honest with their feelings when they grow older.
Step in when your kids are finding it hard to handle things on their own, but remember to teach them the skills and tools they need to do it on their own in future.
3. Teach them how to accept rejection
Your oldest son doesn’t make the football team. You know how gifted he is at the game, so the first thing that comes to mind is to persuade the coach to change his mind.
However, this scenario is a good example of an opportunity to teach your child a life lesson about failure and rejection. Just because he didn’t make the team, it doesn’t mean it’s all over. Tell him that if he is strong enough to accept rejection, then this failure can open opportunities elsewhere to succeed.
4. It’s about the journey, not the end
It’s only Singaporean to encourage your kids to be the best in whatever they do. But if all that matters is getting good grades or winning the competition, then your kids will do anything – including taking shortcuts and cheating. For them, the effort is meaningless unless the goal is achieved.
Teach them that the journey to achieving their goals – being hardworking honest and kind – is what’s really important. Kids who understand that it’s the effort that results in achievement will become more resilient when they fail or get rejected. They know that hard work will lead to genuine success.
5. Don’t pin the blame on others
“We lost because my team mate didn’t train hard enough”
“I didn’t get an A because teacher didn’t explain the topic properly”
Even if the teacher is wrong or that teammate is really lazy, it’s not right to side with your children to blame others when something goes wrong. We know your first instinct is to side with your children, but that simply reinforces the victim card. They learn that being helpless is okay, because they think it’s not caused by them.
Help them to understand that sometimes, life isn’t fair. Life’s worst challenges means sometimes things don’t go their way. But they have the strength to stand up against the unfairness as long as they take up the challenge head first.
6. Help them to label their emotions
When your child can say how they are feeling, like “I’m angry”, he or she is less likely to scream out in anger or act out the negative emotion. Help your children to be honest about how they feel and speak out their emotions out loud. In turn, they gain the skills to cope with what it is that’s making them upset and become comfortable to talk about their feelings with others.
7. Teach them to manage their feelings
Some parents have “self-sooth tools” to help their children calm down. It can be a storybook, a pillow or a toy – they remind their child to use the “tools” when they feel upset. This idea might not be everyone, but it’s noteworthy for teaching children how to be responsible for their feelings, and what they can do to calm themselves down.
These “tools” will inadvertently help them to healthily manage and cope with their own feelings as they grow up.
8. Admit your own mistakes
Even supermum can make mistakes. But the key is to own up to your mistakes and fix the problem in front of your children. Children are impressionable – show them that everyone can make mistakes and problems can be fixed, no matter how difficult it might be. As long as they are honest about the mistake and take steps to fix it as soon as possible.