Ways for Parents to Teach Their Children Resilience

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Resilience is the capacity of individuals to adapt, overcome, or rebound from adversity, trauma, or significant stress. While our intention often leans toward nurturing happy children, recognizing that happiness, akin to sadness, is transient is essential.

Parents might benefit, as suggested by research, by instilling resilience in children and prioritizing it over the sole motivation of raising a “happy child.” Resilience involves not only returning to a stable and healthy state after facing adversity but also embracing growth, learning, and transformation resulting from challenging experiences.

Resilience encompasses psychological, emotional, social, and physical aspects. Here are three ways to raise resilient children:
1. Encourage Effective Communication

Resilience rests, fundamentally, on relationships when we teach children the significance of healthy communication from an early age, they will find it easier to develop strong communication skills, enabling them to express themselves and interact effectively with others as they grow.

You can empower your child to become a proficient communicator by guiding them to comprehend and navigate their own feelings and emotional self-regulation. When we prioritize happiness, we tend to view anything other than happiness as negative. This leads to confusion and helplessness when we experience stress, sadness, or any other negative emotion.

By regularly asking your children how they feel and guiding them to identify and address their frustrations, you can help them develop healthy emotional coping and communication skills. This understanding will not only nurture empathy but also cultivate the ability to forge meaningful connections and adeptly discuss challenging subjects, which will help them garner social support and develop resilience.

2. Cultivate Routine and Flexibility

Structure and flexibility are dual pillars of life. While embracing structure through routines provides a sense of security and comfort, cultivating flexibility enables smooth adaptation to change and eases transitions for children. You can establish a routine by collaborating with your child and distinguishing dedicated times for play and school work.

During periods of distress or change, however, it may be necessary to adapt some aspects of the routine—while still maintaining schedules and consistency for overall stability and well-being in children. It’s essential to help your child understand that change is a natural part of life and that new goals can replace ones that may no longer be achievable.

Encouraging your child to assess their successes and failures and to devise an improvement plan can help instill a positive and hopeful mindset. They will no longer feel afraid to change something that is not working in their favor.

3. Instill an Internal Locus of Control

It’s imperative to teach children the importance of focusing on things that are in their control rather than dwelling on things that are not. This tendency might stem from a reliance on external sources for motivation and validation. Children may adopt people-pleasing habits to seek external validation, initially from caregivers and later from friends and partners, leading to stress and anxiety in adulthood.

Focusing on problems over solutions and getting stuck in negative thinking can contribute to depression or perfectionism, mainly when fulfillment solely relies upon achieving external goals, neglecting personal growth.

Here are two ways you can teach children the value of intrinsic motivation and focusing on things that they can control:
Tell them their effort matters

Teach your children to prioritize effort over outcomes, emphasizing the importance of their hard work rather than just the results. Praise them for trying their best, regardless of whether they win, to boost self-esteem and focus on what truly matters. Similarly, gently correct them if they don’t give their best effort, even if they succeed, to encourage continuous improvement and lifelong growth.

Follow the past-and-future-self model for comparison

Parents should encourage their children to measure their progress in life against their past selves rather than comparing themselves to others. Teaching kids to focus on their growth not only fosters gratitude but also prevents irrational insecurities. Similarly, you can also teach your children that the only expectations they need to fulfill are their future selves and not anyone else’s, including yourself. Encouraging them to envision the person they want to become—inspired by role models but ultimately determined by their values—fosters independence and prepares them for adulthood.

A child’s resilience and happiness hinge primarily on their caregiver. While it’s vital to foster resilience in children, it’s even more crucial to demonstrate resilience to them during challenging times, as children learn by observing the adults around them.