In life, stressful experiences are inevitable. This is applicable not only for adults but also for children and adolescents. They experience such things as falling off a bike, losing friends, adapting to a new environment, failing at exams, to name but a few. When we, as adults, see those experiences as trifling matters, children have a tendency to take the matters seriously which leads them to dwell on sadness too long. If we let this happen, their mental health and well-being will be affected the most. They will grow to be adults who get stressed out easily yet hardly rebound from stressful experiences. Consequently, they need to be equipped with resiliency in life. Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from various types of adversity. A resilient child is a child who is able to cope well with stressful experiences and move forward in life more quickly than the ones who aren’t resilient. Children cannot be resilient naturally when they were born. Resiliency is something to be fostered as early as possible by any caregivers who have important roles in raising a resilient child. There are several ways to build resilience in children.
There is a famous saying that exceedingly resonates with fostering resilience in children; “you cannot give what you don’t have.” Children are very observant. It’s their nature to watch their parents’ behavior and mirror them afterward. For instance, such a simple thing as coming home exhausted from work to find the faucet is broken; children watch how their parents cope and react to moments of stress. Do they get irritated and just let it break, or do they calmly call a mechanic to fix the broken faucet? If parents aren’t resilient, they cannot teach children to be ones. By being a role model, parents can teach resilience to children easily.
Furthermore, when children are experiencing difficulties, they usually are overwhelmed by negative emotions. Children tend to think that it is wrong to feel negative emotions, therefore, tell them otherwise. They need to understand that there is no right or wrong when it comes to human beings going through any kind of emotions because all of them are valid. For example, children may feel angry and frustrated when they break their toys. Being mad at them when they feel angry only adds fuel to the fire. Tell them calmly that it is okay to feel irritated. When they can embrace their emotion, they will also learn to cope with it. As they develop coping skills, they also learn how to solve a problem. Although it is natural for parents to let their instinct takes over by helping solve their children’s problems without actually involving them, this only hinders them in strengthening resilience. Instead of giving pieces of advice and providing answers to their problems, try to ask questions and brainstorm the solution together. By actively involving children to take part in facing difficulties, they learn to put it right and develop their problem-solving skills.
Another thing that is equally important when building resilience in children is optimism. Optimism coincides with resilience. It is encouraged to teach children to be optimistic people without dismissing whatever they feel at the moment. Parents can introduce to children the idea of ‘bright after rain’ which will lead them to a realization that the obstacle they experience won’t last forever and eventually everything will be okay. They learn to take failure as a chance to try again and be better in the next opportunity. In addition, positive affirmation is needed when they feel discouraged. A simple thing like telling them they are doing a great job no matter what is a way to encourage them.
Being a resilient child is not something magical that happens overnight. It is an ongoing process that needs to be fostered ever since early childhood. The presence of adults, specifically parents, is vital in each stage of the process. Parents won’t need to worry about their children who have built a strong resiliency within themselves in the face of adversity. They will recover with no time and thrive to success.