Resilience is an important skill required to enable us to deal with stress and challenges we meet through life. It is the ability to respond and adapt positively to life changing situations; from everyday challenges to large life changing situations or traumatic events such as natural disasters.
Resiliency is not, as long thought, an innate trait that we either have or don’t have. It can be cultivated and developed through life. Fostering our children’s resiliency will enhance the toolkit of skills they need to be empowered to make healthy choices as they navigate through life.
While genes do play a factor in resiliency i.e. where the base level is, the environment in which children grow up contributes to resilience levels over time.
Children born with a higher sensitivity to stress can gain skills to help them manage stress, thus tipping an imaginary scale of resilience away from negative outcomes in response to negative events and towards positive outcomes.
So how can we foster resiliency in children?
Connection & Consistency:
Connection to at least one stable relationship is the common factor found in all resilient children. While parents and families are usually the primary source of this stable loving relationship, caregivers, teachers, extended family and mentors can all fulfill this role. Emotional security is felt when children have at least one trusted adult in their life that they can express themselves to without fear of judgement. Creating a habit of one-on-one time as a parent allows for this relationship to strengthen. Be consistent with this time, be present, turn off technology and allow for unstructured time together.
Stress & Support:
Allow children to experience stress. Not all stress is harmful; allowing children to experience some stressful situations, with support, gives them the opportunity to grow and build resiliency skills. As loving parents and caregivers it is instinctual to want to protect children from situations that cause them stress. Avoiding these situations though does not allow for problem solving skills and positive self-esteem to develop. Giving children a chance to overcome challenges by themselves boosts self-esteem, a cornerstone of resiliency.
Play is the language of childhood so why not have fun while helping children to build their resiliency? Experiencing disappointment when losing a game gives children the chance to understand they can cope with and overcome unpleasant experiences. Board games especially, help children learn a number of skills such as problem solving, co-operation, patience, focus and opportunity. Active games provide a time for physical activity. Setting up family challenges and competitions will provide opportunity for teamwork.
Playing games provides an ideal time to form connections with your children and fill up their emotional cup.
Structure in daily life provides children with a sense of security and comfort. When children know what is expected of them they can start to take responsibility and this in turn will boost their self-esteem.
Incorporate the above tips into a structured family routine and lay the foundation for your children to become resilient adults.
Tamara McGaw-Robinson – Island Lights Kids Life Studio®
#resilience #communication #play #routine #family #kidslifestudio