Resilience is the ability to successfully adapt and recover in tough situations. It’s the willingness and persistence to keep trying, despite the obstacles.
Resilient children are emotionally and behaviorally flexible. They can confidently manage their thoughts, feelings, and actions to deal with uncertainty.
And like most skills, building resilience takes practice.
Read on to learn three tips for raising resilient children, and how it benefits them.
Resilience helps children believe they can overcome hurdles.
They’re in control of their actions, and are capable of managing their emotions in a healthy way.
Resilient children also have self-compassion; they’re kind to themselves, even during tough times.
A lack of resilience can cause children to doubt themselves. They might have low self-confidence, and a difficulty coping with change.
They might experience more anxiety and distress than others, and use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with difficulty.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and handle emotions in a healthy way. It also means being able to identify and empathize with the emotions of others.
It promotes resilience by instilling positive, adaptive traits like:
- Self-confidence and self-awareness
- Curiosity about the world and others
- The ability to maintain healthy relationships
- Awareness of their skills and limitations
- Willingness to take responsibility for their actions
- Ability to forgive themselves for mistakes
- Tendency to think before acting
- Empathy for others
- Willingness to share their emotions with others, and ask for help when needed
Tips to Strengthen Children’s Emotional Intelligence
- Accept that all emotions are normal and valid. There are no “bad” emotions.
- Learn how to identify and name emotions
- Practice self-compassion
- Learning healthy coping mechanisms
- Practice problem solving
- Have empathy for others
For more details about helping children build emotional intelligence, read this post.
Note: Children learn a lot by observing us. That’s why it’s important that we model emotionally intelligent behaviors for them, as well.
As caregivers, it makes sense that we want to protect our children from harm. And while it’s important to keep them safe from significant threats, being overprotective can do more damage than good.
Letting children take reasonable risks helps them learn what their limits are.
Also, risk-taking often involves failure. When children are allowed to fail, they learn that it’s normal.
If they keep trying, they’ll eventually master a new skill. This boosts their self-confidence, and encourages them to be persistent, despite setbacks.
It’s important to introduce risk in a gradual, age appropriate way, and to discuss the risk beforehand.
Some common examples incl:
- Play fighting/rough and tumble play
- Playing at speed (running, biking, etc.)
- Using tools, like kitchen equipment
E.g., If we’re encouraging our child to use the stove, we might say, “The burners are very hot, and you can burn yourself, or start a fire. Never touch the burners, put flammable things near the stove, or walk away while cooking.”
Then, when they successfully use the stove, we should give meaningful praise, like “You used the stove, and remembered to take safety precautions. Awesome job!”
Fostering our children’s ability to solve problems, rather than doing everything for them or telling them to avoid difficulty, builds resilience.
Good problem solving skills help children feel capable and self-assured.
To help them, we can:
Teach them everyday skills, like:
- Make phone calls
- Managing time and money
- Advocating for themselves
- Reading a map
- Grocery shopping
- Dealing with emergencies
This gives them basic knowledge for solving problems.
Then, we can help our children brainstorm potential solutions to their problems/worries.
E.g. Our child is nervous about taking their DMV road test, and worried they’ll fail it.
We may instinctively say, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.” But this isn’t helpful, as it invalidates their feelings and doesn’t offer any solutions if they do fail.
Instead, we can acknowledge their feelings and ask them to think of possible solutions if they fail.
E.g., “It’s normal to be nervous about your driver’s test. How will you deal with it if you fail? Let’s write a list of helpful options.”
Resilient children face challenges head on, and move through the world with confidence.
By encouraging our children to be emotionally intelligent, letting them take risks, and instilling problem-solving skills, we help them thrive.