Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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!

Advertising

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

More by this author

Arthur Peirce

Lifestyle Writer

A Negotiation Is Like a Game, You Can’t Get the Best Deal Without a Strategy Signs of a Commitment Phobe and How to Deal with Him/Her How to Be Your Own Boss with Little (or No) Money Keep A “Friend Bank” So You Can Maintain The Right Kind Of Friendship! How to Leave a Great Impression with a Confident Handshake

Trending in Psychology

1 How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits 2 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 3 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 4 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 5 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

Advertising

    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

      Advertising

      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

      Advertising

      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

      Advertising

      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

      Read Next