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

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.

Reference

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Arthur Peirce

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Psychologists Say It’s Really Possible To Change Our Personality

Do you feel that you can become a better person, but your personality is hindering you from doing so?

Are you one of those people who is making a conscious effort to change, but no matter how hard you try, you remain a prisoner of your personality traits?

Don’t lose hope – it is indeed possible to change your personality!

Personality Crisis

According to the widely accepted model of personality with over 50 years worth of research and study, there are five dimensions of our personality, known as the “Big Five:”

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  • Extraversion: People with high levels of this personality dimension are much more outgoing and tend to be more comfortable in social situations compared to others.
  • Agreeableness: Your level in this dimension determines whether you are more cooperative with other people or competitive (even to the point of being manipulative) with other people.
  • Conscientiousness: Thoughtful people who have high levels of this trait dimension are much more detail-oriented and driven.
  • Neuroticism: Moodiness and the propensity for sadness are associated with people who possess excessive amounts of this personality dimension.
  • Openness: Imaginative and insightful people are very receptive to change and new experiences, whereas those who are not are much more stubborn and reluctant to try out new things.

These personality dimensions are further shaped by our genetics and our upbringing, the latter of which also involves our living environment and culture. These factors ultimately help shape your personality as you grow up, some of which could lead to personality disorders.

However, your personality is never fully set in stone. In fact, it is not uncommon for adults to tweak their personalities as they prepare themselves for new challenges and life situations. For example, stubborn partners will find themselves making an effort to become more cooperative with their loved ones if they want their relationship to work. While these instances may not necessarily lead to positive results, it is evidence enough that changing your personality is not impossible.

The question that begs to be asked is this:

How Much Effort Are People Willing to Put in to Make That Change?

According to a recent study at the University of Illinois, only 13% of respondents were satisfied with their personalities – most of them wanted to change for the better. However, instead of encouraging these people to get help from experts or take courses, R. Chris Fraley and Nathan Hudson conducted different tests instead to see if the respondents can quantify their personalities to make the necessary changes. The results of the test were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which you can view here.

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The first experiment involved an introductory psychology class, who were educated about the Big Five personality dimensions and asked to grade their personalities by filling out a rating form. They were then asked if they wanted something to change in their personality over the 16-week period of this study. To do this, they needed to find a way to change their undesirable personality traits using goals and metrics to track their progress.

Among the 135 participants, half joined the “change plan” condition, in which they were given writing assignments over the same period to assess the changes they need to make for their personalities. Every week, they were also required to complete additional writing assignments to evaluate their progress further. The other half were not asked to write – instead, they were placed in a controlled setting and were provided feedback about their development.

The second experiment involved roughly the same number of participants. The only variable that Fraley and Hudson changed is that, instead of focusing on personality traits, they targeted daily behavior related to the traits that defined their personalities.

The result of both experiments demonstrates the capacity for people to make breakthroughs with their personalities. Participants were able to make strides by getting better scores on personality traits that they wanted to improve. However, the comprehensive change plans only had a modest impact on the actual changes in personality. Also, the 16-week period for the study was not enough for the participants to make the drastic changes one might expect.

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Steps to a Better You

Now that you are aware that you can still change your personality, below are some proactive steps that you can take so you can make the change as early as possible.

1. Do not let “labels” define you

You are not a shy and timid person. Nor are you a cold and callous one. You are simply a person full of potential to change and become a better version of yourself every day. You can be anything, as long as you put your mind to it.

2. Do good deeds

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Getting rid of a terrible personality can start with doing something good. A study published in Motivation and Emotion suggests that engaging in acts of kindness allows you to overcome anxiety. Letting the focus from yourself shift to others leads to more opportunities for social engagement.

3. Just wait

If you cannot force change, then let it come to you. According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and the London School of Economics, change that naturally takes place is not out of the question. The more you undergo transformative experiences in life as you grow older, the more chances that changes in your personality take place.

At the end of the day, change is inevitable. As mentioned above, our personalities are shaped by our experiences in life. By exposing ourselves to positive experiences that we can live by and keeping an open mind for our own identities, there is no doubt that change for the better is indeed possible.

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/GmoHIZ61eMo via unsplash.com

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