The far reaching benefits of teaching resilience to your child are immeasurable. While building a strong foundation during youth, your child is sure to have the tools necessary to face adversity.
In addition to parental structure and guidance, teachers have a great opportunity to demonstrate and teach coping mechanisms to their students. Parents and teachers are in the position of leading by example, so when adversity strikes, children will take their lead in how to behave. Resilience is an important trait to have and can be taught.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to cope and overcome obstacles and trauma. With this trait developed, it can ward off depression and anxiety. A resilient child will have the ability to take a breath and manage problems in an intellectual capacity rather than in a spirited emotional reaction.
How can Resilience be Taught?
Coping mechanisms may be instilled as children grow, but the most important factor in developing resilience is the belief that someone cares, that they are worth fighting for, and that a positive outcome is sure to ensue. This confidence can be instilled young and reinforced during childhood by parents and teachers.
According to the series of Early Childhood Development Development: Practice and Reflections by Bernard Van Leer Foundation, these are the 3 tools for building a successfully resilient child:
I HAVE, I AM, and I CAN:
- I HAVE.
What does a child have to counter adversity?
The “I have…” teaches a child to count on their support network of family, friends, and school administration.
- I AM.
How does the “I am…” provide a child with inner strength?
A parent can teach their young person to draw upon their own attributes; skills and talents.
- I CAN.
Where does a child learn how to apply the ‘I can…?”
Parents can guide a child to trust their own judgment and abilities.
The Importance of Instilling Resilience
When person shows resilience, they show strength in the form of self-respect and perseverance. By feeling confident in their own self-worth and value as a human being, a child will be less tolerant of bad behavior such as bullying. They will know that help will come to put the bullying to an end.
Resilience is recognized as the ability to easily recover from upsetting or challenging situations. This encompasses the fortitude to keep going when life gets tough, to solve one’s problems, and to endure hard times. Having support is important while dealing with adversity, especially as a child learns to depend on himself or herself.
A parent should listen and provide empathy towards a child during his or her angst. With understanding and compassion the child will grow in his ability to find strength and seek solutions.
With a stable support network, a child learns to trust that his value is real. Once problems have been resolved successfully, the child will apply patience and tolerance during the next struggle. Their resilience will evolve, and they will learn that they is competent to survive, no matter the circumstance.
Resilience entails that a person has the wherewithal to rise to the occasion and withstand different types of debacles. With the knowledge that they are supported, combined with the confidence in their own traits and coping mechanisms, a child will be well prepared to face troubles and bounce back from upsetting situations.
What Can Parents Do?
A parent should embody the definition of resilience. As a role model, parents should demonstrate their ability to roll with the punches. For example, when there is a personality conflict at work, the child might hear his parents discussing potential solutions. Does the child hear bad language and revenge tactics or does the child hear his parents discussing how best to handle the troubling situation without causing harm?
Children Dealing with Trauma
When faced with life problems that are outside of a child’s control, anxiety may surface. In the case of death, divorce, or poverty, a child will look to his parents to set the example. During a crisis, the way a parent behaves sets the pace for their children. When a parent is able to calmly discuss a matter, even while battling their own grief or fear, and provide assurance and the semblance of a plan towards a solution, a child will take heed and emulate this same response pattern to their own troubles.
Teach Problem Solving
Resilience is found in the actions of problem solving. By finding solutions, a person can get through adversity when there is an end to the trouble. When a solution has been found for the problem at hand, that problem suddenly seems less of a burden to carry. It is easier to live through a difficult episode when it is perceived as temporary.
It is normal for children to react first and think second. By teaching a child to look for solutions, they will learn to set their powerful emotions aside while they study the situation to look for a way out.
No matter how long a traumatic episode is, it is healthy to always seek answers to problems rather than give up. This is the basis to maintaining hope with a sense of control. Life is filled with situations that have the potential to emotionally unravel people. With a solid foundation of resilience, a person is equipped to face challenges.
Resilience: A Necessary Life Skill
When young children are taught that they can handle tough circumstances, they are better suited to manage their lives through teen and adult years. Both parents and teachers have the golden opportunity to teach young people how to live as capable adults. Adversity is part of life, so having the tools to cope is necessary.