by Mercy Kids President Dr. Joseph Kahn
Resilience is defined as, “The ability to recover quickly from misfortune or change.” Children are exposed to misfortune and change. Their families move, they change schools, friends move away, they get braces and acne, and on and on. Resilient kids navigate these challenges and find solutions to these inevitable situations. Since it’s impossible to shield your children from life’s stresses, it’s important to teach them to address them.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t overprotect your kids and don’t try to accommodate their every need. Eventually they need to learn to sleep in their own room and not on your floor.
- Teach your kids how to avoid risk, not eliminate it. Learning to look both ways when crossing the street is the first step to being a safe teen driver.
- Teach your kids to problem solve. Help your child figure out which strategies and tactics work for them and which don’t.
- Avoid asking “why” there is a problem and instead ask “how” will you (or we) fix this?
“Why did your forget your book bag again?” is less helpful than, “How can you help yourself remember your book bag?” Rather than having an answer for every question, it’s OK to say “I don’t know, but let’s figure this out.”
- Don’t always reassure your child, such as, “You’ll love your new school.” Instead talk about ways for your child to make friends, adapt and happily succeed.
Mistakes are important. Children need to learn the consequences of their actions and decision, perhaps especially when the consequence is not favorable. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Help your kids manage their emotions. They need to learn which behaviors work and which don’t. Tantrums may get attention for a 3 year old but they don’t work well in the workplace for a 23 year old.
Finally, as with everything you wish to teach your child, model resilient behaviors. Your child will not learn to solve problems and manage their emotional responses if you’re unable to show them how.