While we hope our children will have perfect happy lives, the reality is that life contains a lot of hardship, failure, mistakes, problems and other grief. Resilient children learn how to bounce back from set backs; and they are happier and healthier for doing so.
Attribution: Pixabay - White77
While some people might put emphasis on academic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, social and emotional skills can be far more important for a child's personal development.
One of the most important skills is resilience. Resilient children are happier, make more friends and are also achieve better academically. Resillience is the ability to bounce back from failure or rejection, to keep on with a task and solve problems. Without resilience people give up and dwell on problems.
The best teacher for resilience skills is always the child's parents. Here are a small number of tips for building resilience with your children.
1. Be a role model
Have you ever accidentally dropped a swear word in front of your children and found that they mirror it right back at you? Children mirror the behaviour of their parents. If you want your child to be resilient you need to be resilient yourself.
Attribution: Pixabay - gourmetchefen
You have to show your child how you are not upset in the face of failure, how you solve problems and how you cope with setbacks and keep on smiling.
2. Empathy & Respect
Life would be so much easier if everyone, especially our children, just did as they were told. However everyone, including kids, have their own needs, ideas and feelings.
Think about the child who wants to eat ice cream for breakfast. You could just reply and say "Don't be childish and just eat your toast". But this is likely to end up in sulks or tantrums. Why not try saying "I also love ice cream, but it is not good for breakfast. But why don't we get some ice cream after school?". The latter shows that you both understand and respect them.
It is not about caving in to our children, but negotiating. When we do this we model a great social behaviour that we would also like our children to adopt.
3. Decisions and rules
Who makes decisions in your household? Usually it is the parents. However if you involve your children in decision making it will help them to make choices in their life.
One example that comes to mind is a parent battling with their son, Jason. He is refusing to put on a shirt and they are running late. They even laid out the shirt for him, but he is being stubborn. But then remember a little trick. They ask Jason to choose a shirt that he likes. It is so much easier to get Jason to wear the shirt that he wants.
As we grow up we have to learn how to make decisions and take control of our lives. This will show that you respect them, listen to them and they learn how to make the right choice and will see problems they face as choices.
4. Solving problems.
Children don't need to learn the answers to problems as much as they need to learn the skills to figure out how they can solve the problem themselves. Whether you teach them how to brainstorm solutions, analyse the problem or break problems into steps plans, they will apply these techniques academically and in life.
Attribution: Pixabay - geralt
5. Mistakes, Failure and Mastery
Most important and valuable skills require time and effort. To build resilient children we must give them the experience of mastery. This could be learning a musical instrument, a sport or some other difficult task.
Attribution: Pixabay - PublicDomainPictures
Mastery requires applying many skills, including hard work, making mistakes, failing, problem solving and recovering from setbacks. This experience can be applied over and over again in their life. They will use this for school projects, personal relationships and acquiring skills through out their life.
Social and Emotional Learning
Resilience is a skill we all need. It is a positive skill that can be applied throughout our life as we experience all manner of problems, challenges and set backs. It is part of the social and emotional skills that are important to our child's development and happiness.
I like the example you have given in point 3, about a young boy picking his own shirt to wear. I involve my children in almost all decisions, consult them and get their feedback and input. They give me excellent perspective, one that I may not have thought of, and they are only 8 and 6. It's because I have involved them in decision-making since they were young. I always say: What is the worst that can happen? And if that "worst" is not too bad, then let it be. Children are so intelligent. They can teach adults a thing or two about parenting! :)
I want to write an article on the value of letting kids make their own decisions. It has been shown that if you do this they are less likely to do drugs, have teen pregnancy and so when they get older.
Would love to hear more about some the examples of some of the decisions you let them make.