Resilience helps us deal with the challenges life throws at us. Stressful times are inevitable. We can’t avoid them. But we can build resilience and adopt coping mechanisms to reduce the effects of stress on our mental and physical health.
We start building resilience in childhood. Parents and caregivers encourage us to stand tall and depend on our inner strength during bad times. This teaches us how to make lemonade when life’s lemons are thrown at us.
This blog will explain why building resilience in children is essential to fostering confidence and self-esteem. We will look at resilience, its importance and give tips on raising resilient children.
What is Resilience?
Imagine a mighty oak tree that stands tall in the face of a relentless storm. The wind and rain may lash at it, but it remains firmly rooted. It draws strength from deep within the earth. Those strong roots began forming when the mighty oak was a mere sapling. A young tree. Like a resilient child.
Resilience in children is vital for dealing with troubles in adulthood. Studies show resilient children are more confident and better prepared to deal with changes in the world around them.
Why is Building Resilience in Children Important?
According to recent NHS findings, some 18% of children ages 7 to 16 and 22% of young people aged 17 to 24 had a probable mental health disorder. A mental disorder or illness can decrease resilience and the ability to withstand difficult times.
Many factors can negatively impact the mental well-being of a child, including:
- Harsh parenting
- Emotionally unavailable parents and caregivers
- Quality of home life
- Sibling rivalry
- Exposure to adversity
- Peer pressure
- Racism and discrimination
- Ill physical health
The link between Mental Health and Resilience
Children must develop resilience, so that should they encounter any of the above, they will be in a better position to manage, cope and overcome.
Fortunately, the factors listed are not experienced by all children and not all at once. But most children will have to deal with exam season, not getting their desired grades or not being picked for the first team. These scenarios are inevitable and children need the mental tools to deal with them.
A child’s ability to manage thoughts and emotions can be negatively impacted without resilience. And mental health issues in childhood can lead to mental disorders that continue into adulthood.
Common Factors to Develop Resilience in Children
For children to develop resilience, they need the help of adults. Parents, caregivers, family members and educators all have a role in building resilience in children.
Relationships with Parents or Caregivers
Having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver or significant adult is the most common way children develop resilience. They provide a child with one-on-one attention and protection from developmental disruption.
Through these relationships, children also develop the ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour.
Biology and Environment
Children who can bounce back after episodes of adversity generally have a natural resistance to hard times later in life. They also have solid relationships with significant adults in their family and community. The community can include family, friends, teachers and youth group leaders. These protective factors help to create resilient kids.
A child may show resilience when faced with one form of adversity but struggle when exposed to another. A standard set of factors predisposes children to positive outcomes when difficulties arise. They are:
- Supportive adult-child relationships
- Building a sense of self-belief and control
- Being exposed to opportunities to strengthen adaptive skills
- Cultural traditions or having a source of faith and hope
Good Forms of Stress
Not all stress is bad for us. In fact, stress is beneficial. We can let our inner coping skills come into play during stressful situations. This is how we humans develop resilience. Children will encounter numerous cases where they must manage stress, and as adults, we can help them. Although too much help can also be detrimental to their development.
Guiding a child through adversity, with examples of how to deal with situations and encouraging words, reinforces the knowledge that stress is a part of life. They’ll have the skills to overcome and grow from the not-so-good times.
Tips for Developing Resilience in Children
As parents or caregivers, we want to protect our children from everything. But, in the end, this will be to their detriment. Just as we need to leave a child to get up and dust themselves off after a fall, we need to provide them with the skills to mentally pick themselves up when things don’t go their way. Here are some tips to follow:
Encourage your child to set goals and dreams for themselves. Plans, when accomplished, boost self-esteem. Goals unmet allow them to learn to deal with disappointment and prepare for the next challenge they set for themselves.
Self-esteem and Personal Awareness
We can overcome adversity better if we have a strong sense of self. Help your child to learn about who they are, where they are from, what values they hold and what’s great about them. This can be done through role play, stories, one-on-one interaction and family time.
Provide your child with the space to show off their skills and abilities. Let them grow to believe in themselves and their capabilities. This is especially important during stressful times. This is where you can allow them to shine and praise them for relying on themselves and making it through. This is a surefire way to boost their confidence!
Guide children to make relationships offline rather than spending too much time on social media. Not only is this a healthier option. It is also a safer option because you never know if online connections are who they pose to be. Connecting with real-life family and friends will always be better than online interaction.
Change is inevitable. It can be difficult also. Children change schools, living environments, and activities. The family dynamic can change – a new sibling, a step-parent or step-siblings. They will need encouragement (lots and lots), but to build resilience, they must learn to deal with change.
Problem-solving is crucial in building resilience. We can’t always step in and save the day. We have to leave them to think about a situation and solve the problem they are faced with. Yes, we can advise, but ultimately, it’s up to them. Problem-solving is something they will need throughout life. Building this skill in childhood is so beneficial.
Children and teenagers often don’t realise that we were young like them once. We can use our own experiences to talk to them about how we, in our childhood, overcame adversity. Not only is this a time to encourage them to see the bigger picture and rely on their own superpowers, but it is also an excellent opportunity to bond with them.
How Resilience Are You?
Resilience is vital to our overall health. Building your own resilience is a good idea before you look to nurture and raise resilient children. After all, children learn from us and mirror our behaviour. Our Resilience Training course is for everyone. It covers a range of topics on how to live a mentally healthy life, such as
- How our mental health constantly fluctuates
- What habits support better mental health and which don’t
- The effect of social media and social interactions on our mental well-being
- The importance of sleep, diet, and exercise
Give it a go. You never know what you’ll discover about yourself.