We perceive childhood to be a carefree time but many children do face emotional hurts, challenges, and traumas. Children deal with problems like adapting to new classrooms, bullying by peers, or even different struggles at home. There are many uncertainties a child goes through in this complex world other than living a pure carefree life. Therefore developing the skill of resilience in kids is very much essential to thrive in their respective challenges.
The resilience skill can be learned that is a positive note
A resilient child or person can adapt to adverse situations, trauma, or any tragedy, or even manage significant stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Being a resilient child does not mean that a child will not experience any emotional difficulty or stress if they have suffered any major trauma or personal loss or even while hearing other loss or trauma. Emotional pain, sadness, and anxiety are common feelings a person goes through during tough times.
10 tips we can use to build resilience in children and kids
1. Make connections
The child should be taught the importance of engaging themselves with their peers and also they should have the ability to listen to others and be empathetic. Children should be encouraged to connect to peers in person through phone, video chats, and texts. A strong family network around children builds social support and helps in strengthening resilience.
2. Make your child help others
A child feeling helpless can feel empowered if they are helping others. Children can be indulged in age-appropriate work or tasks or can be asked for assistance that they can get indulged into and can master.
At school, a teacher can brainstorm with children about the ways a child can help others in their respective classes.
3. Make your child follow a daily routine
A routine can comfort a child, especially the younger ones. Get involved with your child and make a routine for school, work, and play but during times of distress be prepared to be flexible with some routines at the same time schedules and consistency are important to maintain.
4. Give a Break
We can make a child learn how to focus on something that is under their control. We can give them some hypothetical examples of any worst-case scenarios and ask them to examine the situation and ask what they would suggest to a friend living in those situations. We need to be aware of the child’s triggered feelings whether listening to the news, online article, or overheard conversations. A school should allow a child to be creative.
5. Teach self-care to your child
A child should know the importance of self-care which can be learned while doing basic things like spending more time eating properly, exercising, and getting sufficient sleep. One should ensure that the child has sufficient time to participate in activities they enjoy and have fun. Self-care and having fun help a child in staying balanced and deal with stressful times in a better way.
6. A positive self-view is equally important
A child can be reminded of the ways they have handled stressful situations in the past and help them understand how those situations have made them strong enough to handle future challenges. Enable your child to trust themselves while solving problems and making appropriate decisions. At school, help children see how their accomplishments contribute to the well-being of the class as a whole.
7. Set a goal with your child
A child should be motivated to set reasonable goals for themselves and move towards their accomplishments step-wise. It will help a child to focus on specific tasks and can help in building resilience while moving forward and facing challenges. At school assignments can be broken into small tasks for younger children and the older ones should be appreciated once the larger goals are accomplished.
8. Be Hopeful
Even when a child is facing some painful situations, make them look at the broader picture and help them in maintaining a long-term perspective. A younger child can be helped in knowing that the future lies beyond the current tough situation and it can be good. An optimistic outlook in a child helps them in moving on from tough situations. At school, they can be taught using history lessons that life is also beyond bad times and they are specific and temporary.
9. Look for opportunities for self-discovery
Tough times help a child in learning about themselves and we can help a child to know what they have learned in those situations. At school, discussions can be initiated about what each student has learned after facing a tough situation.
10. Accept change
Change is not accepted easily by children or by teens. Make the child understand that change is an inevitable part of our lives and that new goals can replace the set goals. It is necessary to examine what is going well and what not is up to the mark. In school, point out how students have changed as they moved up in grade levels and discuss its impact on the students.
Resilience and preschool children
Young children who have recently mastered the skill of walking and talking are unable to express their feelings of anxiety and fear. We might think that they are too young to understand but they too absorb frightening events.
Watch for the signs of fear and sadness in them as they cannot express themselves. Check if your child has become extra clingy or needs hugs more than usual or they are suddenly more irritable. They might also feel the pressure of things going around. Use games or art to help them express their feelings.
Make your child surrounded during family time. In times of stress and change, spend more time with your children playing games, reading to them, or just holding them close.
Resilience and elementary school children
Elementary school children might have started forming new friends and groups and participating in the activities on their own. Ensure the child feels that they have a space to feel safe. Both home and school should be that place for them.
Talk to your children and answer their questions, honestly and reassure them with simple statements that let them know you are taking action to keep them safe and are there to take care of them. Listen to their concerns and fears when they share them with you and let them know you are there for them.
If you know that the child panics, limit the news content your child is exposed to as there are chances of misinterpretation. You don’t need to hide everything going on but avoid the situations they fear.
Your children might normally be able to handle a failed test or teasing, but be understanding that they may respond with anger or bad behavior to stress. Reassure them that you just want them to be happy and that you are there for them.
Resilience and middle school children
Middle school children can be more stressed because of the struggle to meet the extra academic demands and avoid social pitfalls. They look to their teachers and parents to keep them safe.
If your child has to shift social groups that form in middle school, help them understand that other children may be feeling the same, lonely and confused, and help them to see beyond the current situation. Help them build an empathetic attitude keeping their perspective in mind. Share your stories of coping with the situations and what a child can benefit from it.
Resilience in high schoolers
A teenager’s emotions are volatile and connecting with the teens is quite difficult. Talk with them whenever you can, even if they don’t want to. Sometimes the best time to talk maybe while traveling together; or doing chores together. These will allow your teen to focus on something else while they talk. When they have questions, answer them honestly but with reassurance and ask for their opinion about what is happening and listen to their answers.
A space of their own can serve as a constant and a place for them to have as their own. Your children may prefer to be with their friends rather than spend time with you, but be ready to provide lots of family time for them when they need it and set aside family time that includes their friends.
The journey of resilience
Development of resilience is a personal journey and one can share their own experiences to guide them in their journey. An approach to building resilience that works for you or your child might be different from others. Turning to someone for guidance may help your child strengthen resilience and persevere during times of stress or trauma.