kids

We asked a parenting expert how to teach your kids resilience. There's three key ways.

Resilience has become a bit of a buzz word around the world of parenting in recent years, but its importance shouldn’t be underestimated as it is a skill essential for living a successful life as a child and as an adult.

According to Parenting Ideas founder and resilience expert, Michael Grose, “resilience refers to children’s ability to cope and bounce back from hardships, frustration and difficulties that they face on a regular basis.”

Michael says that building resilience within a child is definitely a “group based thing” that “is not just about the individual child but it is about building it within families.” He said that a “resilient kid = a resilient family”.

Naturally a child will look to their parents, the way a parent models behaviour, so the way adults in their life overcome obstacles or problems and how they face adversity play a part in how children learn to do these things themselves.

“The seemingly small disappointments that kids experience – not being invited to a party, missing being picked in a sports team, not achieving success in a school project the first time – help them learn to cope with hardship and frustration. Coping with minor development issues such as change, sibling conflict and even failure, build up a psychological hardiness that will help them when they face some of life’s big challenges in adolescence and beyond,” Michael said.

He says there are three key ways parents can help teach the skill of resilience within their children:

1. “Don’t change the situation to help the child, help the child adapt to the situation.”

Because life doesn’t always give us what we want, as an adult or as a child, we should not fix all the problems in our child’s life. Michael said this can be from a child not being put in a class that they wanted or to a fight or disagreement with a friend. “The situation might not be ideal but it is about how you can get the most out of it.”

Michael said that “flexibility, to ‘go with the flow’ is a terrific resilience characteristic,” because it allows children to adapt and cope with situations that might make them uncomfortable or circumstances that may not be their preference but it gives them the tools (imperative for their life as an adult) to come through it.

He also specified that there are of course “extreme” factors like bullying where it is totally suitable for a parent to take a more involved role.

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2. Perseverance – “Keep having a go… push through and don’t give up.”

“A resilient learner perseveres,” Michael said. They are able to keep going even if they find something hard or if they make mistakes.

A child without resilience can often be disheartened when they make mistakes or don’t get things right the first time, letting it impact their entire day. Being able to try again and not letting it get to them is an important factor in life and a key characteristic of resilience that perseverance has.

“From the resilience perspective you are better off coaching kids through some of their more challenging moments and reviewing what they may have learned for next time,” Michael said.

3. “Give kids a chance to solve their own problems.”

“As a parent, you need to resist sorting out your children’s social problems for them; rather, you need to skill them up to solve their own friendship challenges. Sometimes parents can create problems by interfering in children’s disputes.”

Michael also noted that “not everything needs to be fixed”. Often children want parents to understand the problem or issue they are facing, they want parents to “get it”, they don’t necessarily want them to “fix it.”

A great suggestion Michael had was to monitor your child, let them have a go at solving their own problems and if they are really struggling then “you can jump in”.

“The easiest way to promote resilience is to offer your child unconditional love and support; do all in your power to provide a safe, predictable family environment; look for opportunity to build your child’s coping capacities and strengths; and build your family’s proprietary language around resilience.”

You can access more information and resources on resilience on the Parenting Ideas website.

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: two goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram

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