Whether we are born with a certain amount of resilience or build upon life experiences, we can all agree that it is extremely valuable. Dr. Wittenberg offers practical suggestions for boosting resilience in children. ~Dr. Barbara Kerr, Compassionate Action Network International, education volunteer
by Dr. Heather Wittenberg
Your children are strong. Stronger than you might be led to believe by the headlines screaming about the latest parental panic point. Resilience is the best kind of strength to have: It’s the ability to bend, not break, under pressure – and emerge stronger for it.
Resilience is hugely important. It leads to happier, longer lives. But like any strength, it must be tested and used – regularly – in order to grow.
Here are 13 ways to grow more resilient children:
- Don’t panic! When it comes to adversity, we can’t avoid curveballs in life. But we can model how to catch them, which will set a foundation for handling stress as your child grows.
- Resist the urge to rescue - Allow age-appropriate struggles. Little mistakes made when young help children cope better with bigger problems later in life.
- Give up control - Let your child make as many decisions as it’s safe and reasonable to. How else will she learn to navigate life’s choices?
- Love them for who they are, not what they do - Have high expectations for their behavior, but don’t let your love depend on their performance.
- Use your words - It’s OK to have strong feelings; role-play how to express them appropriately. Words help us manage our feelings to better bounce back from disappointments.
- Brainstorm problem-solving - Help your kiddos get in the habit of discussing problems, big and small.
- Leave the overindulgence to Grandma – Don’t rush to buy the latest gadgets or clothes. Kids who have a bit less work harder – and prioritize better – than those who are showered with “stuff.”
- Give them chores - Responsibility builds a sense of being needed, and shows children how much they can contribute. Here’s my list of a zillion chores your young child can do now.
- Strengthen the ability to wait - Delaying gratification is difficult – but important to future success. Teach rhymes and songs to sing while you wait, and play games like “Red Light, Green Light” or “I Spy” to pass the time.
- Be a “strengths detective” – Find – and nurture – at least one talent your child has. Every child has strengths. Being good at something helps them bounce back from tough times.
- The power of the positive - Express “gratitudes” at family meals. Talk about the good things that happened today. Notice the beauty in life. Finding the positives in life boosts flexibility and happiness.
- Celebrate culture - Understand and celebrate your family’s history. Value and admire the differences (Link to Diversity) of others in the community. Our uniqueness makes us strong.
- Give back - Have the family participate in community projects. There’s a lot of work to be done to improve the conditions and rights of other folks. Working for others builds a sense of internal gratitude for the blessings we do have.
How do you raise your children to be strong and resilient? Please share!
Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.
Source: La Petite Academy; http://www.lapetite.com/parent-resources/blog/2013/04/13-ways-to-boost-resilience-in-young-children/