Tips for Building Resilience in Your Kids

Tips for Building Resilience in Your Kids

After decades of experience working with thousands of kids of a all ages I am astounded and dismayed at the lack of resilience in young people today.  And to be fair, it’s not at all their fault.  It is ours.  As adults we have shielded, buffered and protected them to their own detriment.  Instead of having kids who can say to themselves “It’s ok that I didn’t get what I wanted or that I performed badly, I can still move forward.  I will try again.  I can do this.”  We have teenagers smashing windows because they got a low ACT score, didn’t get in to the college of their choice or they weren’t invited to a birthday party.  Even our younger kids are throwing tantrums and physically assaulting teachers when they have to redo a homework assignment or retake a spelling test.  These kids are lacking resiliency.  Here are a few tips to build this essential life skill in your child.

1. Be present in your kid’s life.  While some parents are over-parenting and hovering, research also shows a swell of parents not making meaningful emotional connections with their kids.  Being present means setting aside what you are doing when they walk in the room and let them see the joy their presence brings to you. Make eye contact.  Take interest in what they are saying.  Show them you care by being empathetic (not to be confused with sympathetic) when they struggle even if they played a role in their own demise.

2. Back off.  I know, I just said be present and now I’m saying back off.  There’s a delicate balance.  Be present but don’t do everything for them.  Don’t check in with them before, during and after an event or important assignment to see if they need you. Let them make choices and decisions about how to do things whenever possible.  For example, when they are young they can choose what to wear, when they are in middle school they can decide whether it’s cold enough outside that they need a jacket and when they are in high school they can determine in what order to do homework assignments.  Let them take risks and make mistakes without  you acting like the world might end.  When they take work hard or take a risk and succeed it will build a tremendous sense of authentic accomplishment.

3.  Model it.  Your kids see you as successful and are often unaware of the twists and turns and setbacks you’ve experienced and continue to experience.  The best way to normalize struggle and build resiliency is to let your kids know when we have, or have had a setbacks such as a failure or disappointment at work or even a falling out with a close friend.  Allow them to see you feeling down for a bit.  Let them hear you say that maybe you could have done somethings differently or better… or that you know you did some things wrong.  After they hear you reflect about the situation let them see you smile then move on.

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us!  Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

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