Raising Resilient Kids - Family is undoubtedly the most important system affecting child resilience.
Resilience is one of the most important attitudes you can cultivate in your kids—and, while we’re at it, in yourself. It’s how you move past any challenge, whether that hurdle is a molehill or a mountain. “The ability to persist in the face of difficulty may be as essential to success as talent or intelligence,” says psychologist Lisa Damour, Ph.D., author of Untangled. The point of life isn’t waiting for it to get easier. It’s discovering that even though “grit” sounds hard it can lead to so much joyful creativity and competence. It’s learning to pick up and move on. Following are some thoughts about helping your child learn to do just that.
One of the benefits of resilience is that it helps kids cope with problems even when you’re not physically there to help, like at school. “When our kids can grapple with frustration, they’re more able to learn and easier to teach,” says teacher Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure. However, building resilience doesn’t mean toughing it out alone. “Give your children a connected life—to family, friends, a neighborhood, school, teams, clubs, a pet, nature, the world of ideas. Connection is the greatest tool we’ve got for dealing with adversity. Let your child flounder while you stand nearby.
Step In—But Don’t Take Over
Your goal is not to shield, solve, or fix, but to offer what experts refer to as scaffolding: making sure that the framework is in place for your child to succeed. It might mean leaving enough time for your 5-year-old to tie her own shoes so you don’t have to interfere or be late to kindergarten. “Do you want help figuring this out?” is a great question to get in the habit of asking.
Teach Realistic Assessment
You don’t want your child to see every molehill as a towering obstacle. Setbacks don’t need to ruin your experience, and most mistakes don’t have long-term consequences. Pobody’s perfect.
Encourage a Growth Mindset
According to psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D., and her now-famous mindset research, when you teach kids that intelligence is not fixed but is ever-expandable, they show greater motivation in school and get better grades and higher test scores. So, give your kids information about how they’re actually neurologically and anatomically designed for success. Explain that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger when you use it. Reinforce this attitude by praising your children not for being smart (a fixed state) but for working hard and sticking with it (a growth state).
Invite your kids to imagine out-of-the-box solutions—what experts call divergent thinking—to family troubles, and creative problem-solving
Look on the Bright Side
Optimism is a key component of resilience, and although some kids may seem naturally sunnier than others, it’s an attitude that can be taught. Explain to your kids—as often as necessary—that it’s not what you do wrong (or what goes wrong) that matters most, it’s what you do next.
Show Them How It’s Done
Let your kids see you keeping calm and carrying on. Allow them to see you get a good night’s sleep, try again the next day, apologize, go for a run to sweat it off, take a class to improve yourself, make fun of your own foibles. Talk to your kids about how you could make amends and be better. Ask them for their advice and to participate in talking through how we fix our screw-ups.
Being playful makes the moment easier. Humor reduces stress and contributes to resilience. When we laugh at our mistakes, dust ourselves off, and try again, we show our children how to become stronger people—and we become a little more resilient too.