Tweens Teens & Twenties

Raising a Resilient Child

By Kerrie McLoughlin | Contributor

There’s a lot of talk about “resilience” these days, but what exactly does the term mean? Generally, resilient people of any age have the ability to bounce back from challenges with a positive attitude. They can easily move through difficulties and surprises by problem solving and learning, rather than staying stuck in the problem.

Lizzy Francis, in a Fatherly.com article, wrote, “It is up to parents to give [kids] the coping skills they’ll need, and to teach kids resilience: how to bounce back from setbacks and to overcome frustrations. Raising resilient children means raising kids who are independent, confident, curious, caring, and patient.”

Below are some guidelines to help kids develop a resilient approach to life so they can roll with the punches life will inevitably throw.

Help by brainstorming instead of rescuing

Instead of rushing to make sure life is always comfortable for your kids, let them figure out how to solve their own issues sometimes. This goes for relationships, school, work, sports and other activities. They’ll need to figure out how to deal with challenges, and you’ll need to help them by brainstorming and teaching them how to handle things without rescuing.

Instead of rushing to make sure life is always comfortable for your kids, let them figure out how to solve their own issues sometimes.

Let your kids enjoy some freedoms

Yes, we live in a crazy world, but our kids should be able to enjoy some freedoms, like walking to their friend’s house up the street, depending on their age and maturity level. And I do worry when my teens drive themselves places, but I try my best not to let them see my anxiety. I know their dad and I taught them the skills they need to be defensive drivers, so we send them out into the world with a hug and a prayer. They might run into some issues along the way, but that’s what teaches resilience!

Let them make mistakes

While it can be painful to watch our children fail, Emily L., wise mom of five, hopes we will keep in mind that “failure and success are both main characters in the drama of life. To give up one is to lose the other. If children never fall, then they never experience the joy of rising in imperfect perseverance. To let them fail is to allow them the fullest experience of life.”

It’s so satisfying to watch the creative ways our kids get back up when they fall. Learning consequences of actions is so important, and we can show our kids how to act by admitting when we make mistakes ourselves. Elizabeth H., another mom of five, suggests, “Give them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.”

Let them experience frustrating emotions

It’s okay to feel the frustrating emotions that come with making mistakes, learning new things and being put in foreign situations. Model emotional resiliency for your kids and you’ll raise some empathetic kids. You want them to realize that talking things through and getting angry or crying when appropriate are a healthy part of being a human being.

Set a good example and give them tools for the future

Sarah Logan Lyons, mom of six, shares, “It’s not easy to be flexible when things don’t go as expected. Set a good example of how to react to unexpected situations so the kids can model your reactions. I also talk through the feelings they have when this happens and give them tools for how to deal with it in the future. We also try to look at the blessings in difficult situations and make the best of any situations.”

If anything is going to help our kids of all ages to be more resilient as human beings, it’s what went on during the pandemic in 2020. Everything was cancelled for a while—sports, birthday parties, church, graduations, lessons—and the changes kept coming. Kids had to learn how to keep themselves occupied by learning new skills, finding new ways to socialize from a distance and trying new things while also keeping active and staying healthy.

One final tip from Barbara F., mom of five: “Always look for the joy in everything. It’s easy to move on when you see the light.”

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