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How to Foster Your Child’s Resilience to Survive in This Chaotic World

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How to Foster Your Child’s Resilience to Survive in This Chaotic World

I have, in the past written about the importance of resilience. The importance of being able to stand tall against all the unexpected stresses and strains of life. Resilience, when viewed as a skill, is, I believe, vital.

However it can be much more important and beneficial to develop resilience in early life. Being resilient can also have a huge benefit on an individual’s health and personal development.

The world’s children, when they reach adulthood will have to face many problems which are only just beginning to arise, or are yet to make themselves known. Climate change which is becoming an increasing threat, will in time be a severe and present one. Current geopolitical struggles may deteriorate into terrible wars and strife. In response developing strong resilience could prove to be a highly effective way to function in this unpredictable world.

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Why is it important to develop resilience in children?

It has been shown that developing resilience in childhood is much more effective than developing resilience in adulthood.  In childhood the brain is still developing, as such it is much more adaptable and flexible than the brain of an adult. Things discovered and learned are far more likely to be absorbed in childhood than adulthood. So if resilience is fostered in childhood, they will, in adulthood be far more resilient and adaptable than someone who had no extra resilience fostered in them[1].

Resilience is not just the ability to keep a cool head in stressful situations either. Resilience can help us feel extremely balanced and in control in life, no matter the situation. Resilience has been shown to:

  • Improve academic achievement in school (and not be overcome by study stress)
  • Improve mental and physical health (largely by limiting the affects of stress which can have severe effects on physical and mental health)
  • Improved productivity. This is quite simple: being able to function well and adapt to very stressful situations means you will be able to get more done in them. Stress about work makes things more difficult, by removing the stress, you remove the extra difficulty.
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence. When your child sees themselves overcoming stressful situations with relative ease or see themselves doing well no matter what is working against them, they will naturally feel good about themselves and feel in control.

If the above in mind, it seems like wanting to inspire extra resilience in your child is a great thing to strive for, and it is. But how do you develop resilience?

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Here are five ways to improve your child’s resilience[2]:

Be there with your child every step of the way.
As you’re obviously the kind of parent to read articles about child development, you may already fulfilling the criteria for this tip. But countless research has demonstrated that the single most important thing a parent can do for their child, (not just to foster resilience but, well…everything) is to be there for them. Having the support of just one dependable parent, guardian, or caregiver can have a massively beneficial affect on a child.

Strong relationships like this will not only provide the child with a strong supportive influence. Your child will begin to monitor and regulate their behavior to be similar to them, so if you are strong and supportive, they will become strong and supportive, and with this, will become more resilient as they have a measure of strength and security in their life.

Bring and build optimism for your child.
Optimism has been shown to be a key feature of resilient people. This makes sense, people who are able to re-frame situations to see the positive side in them will always respond better to difficult situations, and by doing so, will be more resilient. If your child responds pessimistically to their next setback or disappointment, it is your job to help them see things differently[3]. In every failure is a new opportunity.

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There is a famous quote by Thomas Edison, after failing a few of his early attempts to build a working light bulb someone asked him how he felt about the many failures. His response was wonderful, he said:

“I haven’t failed, I’ve discovered 10,000 ways how not to invent a light bulb”

Of course, in the end, he succeeded too!

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Encourage your child a small level of measured risk-taking[4].
Obviously I’m not saying you should encourage them to do something dangerous. However it can be beneficial to encourage your child to do things when there is a possibility of failure. Trying and failing at something worthwhile is infinitely more important than never trying.
In doing this, and developing this mindset will make your child learn that no failure is world ending or absolute if you keep on trying. This mindset is a key building block of resilience.

Don’t rush in and solve all of your child’s problems, but allow room from growth.
If your child comes to see you as the one who solves their problems, then there is no room for them to grow, for them to experience success and failure through their efforts alone. Whilst it is important to be their rock, or their advocate, you need to give them a chance to try things for themselves, even if they fail. You can never learn to ride a bike properly if you never remove the training wheels.Again, once they see themselves succeeding by their efforts, and working through every failure. They will become more resilient changes and failures as a consequence.

Be a role model and someone your child could look up to.
All of these mean little if they don’t have someone to base their actions on. If they have no model of resilience to emulate[5]. This is where you come in. I’ve written about the importance of being a supportive influence, but sometimes that isn’t enough. You can’t be a pessimist and help someone become an optimist. You need to live and act in the ways you want your child to act.
Here both you, and your child, will become develop great resilience and stand tall against all that life throws at you.

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Reference

More by this author

Arthur Peirce

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