It can be hard to know how best to build resilience in your child when faced with adversity; heck, it’s hard to be resilient as parents sometimes.
Fear not though, as resilience is a skill that can be nurtured and developed. If you are concerned about how your child copes with setbacks and adversity, here are my top tips to support your child feel able to cope with anything life throws them:
1: Encourage your child to help others. Helping other people gives children a sense of purpose and pride, and supports them to feel like capable beings. This may seem slightly more difficult during the coronavirus outbreak, however there are small ways your child can be helpful even during lockdown, such as writing a note to an elderly neighbour to check if they need any groceries, or sorting out some unused toys for charity.
2: Give your child positive and specific feedback on the things they do well. For example, instead of saying ‘well done’ or ‘good boy’, try ‘I really liked how you…’which really clarifies what you are pleased with. This will help them to understand what they are doing well and boost their confidence, which will in turn make them feel capable and competent.
3: Try not to give too much attention to their worries. By this, I absolutely don’t mean to ignore your child’s worries in any way. Children need to feel listened to and heard to become secure people. However, sometimes, when you spend too much time focussing on your child’s worries you actually give weight to their fear and encourage their worry to grow into something bigger. This makes children feel less able to cope and can erode their sense of resilience. Instead, encourage your child to evaluate his or her fears by supporting them to question and challenge their thought – how likely is their fear likely to happen? Is there something different or better than might happen? How could they cope if it did happen?
4: Encourage your child to take plenty of exercise. Back garden sports such as football and trampolining are great for boosting your child’s mood during lockdown, and support your child to develop strong self-esteem.
5: Be a positive role model of resilience. If you experience a setback or something that worries you, talk to your child about your experience and let them see you ‘bounce back’ using healthy coping strategies. It can be helpful for children to see that everyone has fears and worries, but how you tackle and overcome them is the important thing.
6: Be a supportive and nurturing presence in your child’s life. Having someone reliable and dependable who cares for them no matter what can do wonders for a child’s resilience. The opportunity to be able to talk things through and seek comfort from you will allow them to flourish and grow as a person, even during the more challenging periods of life. This is better still if your child comes into contact with many people who support them unconditionally.
7: Ensure your child has time to relax and play. This enables your child to have time to unwind and process their fears, and makes them more able to deal with times of stress. Whatever it is your child enjoys, from colouring to listening to music, try to give them time in their daily routine to prioritise this.
I hope this helps you to feel more confident in how you can support your child to develop their resilience during these tough times. Remember, you know your child best and your love will get them through anything.
Love, Heather x
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