Welcome to term Four! How quickly the year is passing!
This term our focus will be raising RESILIENT children, an area we need to continue to work on daily with our young families.
Today's read looks at tips to help you raise children who are not afraid to have a go, who realise mistakes help us learn and that its not the end of the world when things don't go our way.
Tips for Raising Resilient Kids
While adulthood is filled with serious responsibilities, childhood isn’t exactly stress-free. Kids take tests, learn new information, play competitive sport, get sick, get braces, encounter bullies, make new friends and occasionally get hurt by those friends.
What helps kids in navigating these kinds of challenges is resilience. Resilient kids are problem solvers. They face unfamiliar or tough situations and strive to find good solutions.
Here are some valuable suggestions for raising resilient kids.
1. Don’t accommodate every need.
According to Lyons, “whenever we try to provide certainty and comfort, we are getting in the way of children being able to develop their own problem-solving and mastery.” (Overprotecting kids only fuels their anxiety.)
For example; a child gets out of school at 3:15. But they worry about their parent picking them up on time. So the parent arrives an hour earlier and parks by their child’s classroom so they can see the parent is there.
In another example, parents let their 7-year-old sleep on a mattress on the floor in their bedroom because they’re too uncomfortable to sleep in their own room.
2. Avoid eliminating all risk.
Naturally, parents want to keep their kids safe. But eliminating all risk robs kids of learning resiliency. In one family Lyons knows, the kids aren’t allowed to eat when the parents are not home, because there’s a risk they might choke on their food. (If the kids are old enough to stay home alone, they’re old enough to eat, she said.)
Giving kids age-appropriate freedom helps them learn their own limits, she said.
3. Teach them to problem-solve.
Let’s say your child wants to go to sleep-away camp, but they’re nervous about being away from home. An anxious parent, Lyons said, might say, “Well, then there’s no reason for you to go.”
But a better approach is to normalize your child’s nervousness, and help them figure out how to navigate being homesick. So you might ask your child how they can practice getting used to being away from home.
4. Avoid “why” questions.
“Why” questions aren’t helpful in promoting problem-solving. If your child left their bike in the rain and you ask “why?” “What will they say? I was careless. I’m an 8-year-old,” Lyons said.
Ask “how” questions instead. “You left your bike out in the rain, and your chain rusted. How will you fix that?” For instance, they might go online to see how to fix the chain or contribute money to a new chain, she said.
5. Don’t provide all the answers.
Rather than providing your kids with every answer, start using the phrase “I don’t know,” “followed by promoting problem-solving,” Lyons said. Using this phrase helps kids learn to tolerate uncertainty and think about ways to deal with potential challenges.
For instance, if your child asks if they’re getting a shot at the doctor’s office, instead of placating them, say, “I don’t know. You might be due for a shot. Let’s figure out how you’re doing to get through it.”
6. Let your kids make mistakes.
“Failure is not the end of the world. [It’s the] place you get to when you figure out what to do next,” Lyons said. Letting kids mess up is tough and painful for parents. But it helps kids learn how to fix slip-ups and make better decisions next time.
According to Lyons, if a child has an assignment, anxious or overprotective parents typically want to make sure the project is perfect, even if their child has no interest in doing it in the first place. But let your kids see the consequences of their actions.
Similarly, if your child doesn’t want to go to football practice, let them stay home, Lyons said. Next time they’ll sit on the bench and probably feel uncomfortable.
7. Help them manage their emotions.
Emotional management is key in resilience. Teach your kids that all emotions are OK, Lyons said. It’s OK to feel angry that you lost the game or someone else finished your ice cream. Also, teach them that after feeling their feelings, they need to think through what they’re doing next, she said.
“Kids learn very quickly which powerful emotions get them what they want. Parents have to learn how to ride the emotions, too.” You might tell your child, “I understand that you feel that way. I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes, but now you have to figure out what the appropriate next step is.”
If your child throws a tantrum, she said, be clear about what behavior is appropriate (and inappropriate). You might say, “I’m sorry we’re not going to get ice cream, but this behavior is unacceptable.”
Resiliency helps kids navigate the inevitable trials, triumphs and tribulations of childhood and adolescence. Resilient kids also become resilient adults, able to survive and thrive in the face of life’s unavoidable stressors.