There’s been a lot of talk lately about resilience (bouncing back from adversity) and grit (persevering through challenges), including the skills associated with these processes and their importance for student well-being and academic success.
If a person doesn’t believe he or she has the ability to succeed—or if repeated failures diminish that belief—then that person will begin, consciously or not, to engage in practices or make excuses in order to preserve their self-worth both their own eyes and in the eyes of others.
Some kids are resilient by nature – their temperament helps them to be mentally and psychologically tough. They get straight back up after a setback or disappointment. Rejection in the playground, sporting field or at home doesn’t faze them. Unfortunately, not every child has such natural resilience.
The good news is that most of the research shows that resilience can be nurtured and developed, particularly when parents themselves are resilient and they actively foster it in their kids.
Resilient kids share four basic skill sets- independence, problem-solving, optimism and social connection.
From a resilience perspective parents need to coach kids through some of their more challenging moments and reviewing what they may have learned for next time. Avoid solving all their problems for them.
You can promote a lasting sense of resilience in your kids by:
- Having a positive attitude yourself. Your attitude as a parent impacts on their ability to bounce back from some of the difficulties they face. Make sure you model a ‘you can do it’ attitude for your child when he meets some of life’s curve balls.
- Look for 'teachable moments. Many kids’ learning opportunities are disguised as problems. Make the most of these opportunities so that kids can grow and learn from some of the challenges they face.
- Make kids active participants in the family. Active participation in a family develops the self-help, problem-solving and independence skills of kids that are necessary for resilience.
- Build kids coping skills. There are plenty of strategies you can pass on to kids to help them cope when life doesn’t go their way, including acceptance, getting away for a while, and normalisation.
Promoting resilience in kids is a not a single event but a continuous process that requires adults to be supportive and empathetic when things don’t go their way. It also requires you as a parent to have an understanding of resilience, so you have faith in yourself, and your child’s ability to cope.