Many parents and teachers can attest to seeing their child throw their hands in the air and give up because a task is too hard, but how do we teach resilience so our children can build skills to tackle larger tasks throughout their lives.
According to family psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack building resilience is a “matter of nurturing the child’s internal motivation”. She says, “Give children opportunities to succeed so there’s a final product, encourage them while they’re doing the task, not just at the end, have your child focus on the effort, not just the product, reward successes, don’t rescue or cover for your child when things go wrong; they need to learn to take responsibility for what has happened and to work towards trying to fix the situation, let them know being unsuccessful in completing a task isn’t bad at all - it’s a learning experience and only helps further down the track. We need to build confidence in our children to do it themselves.”
For parents and teachers, building resilience in children is important for the child’s growth, but also for the wellbeing and productiveness of the adult. Here are five ways to help build resilience in a child:
Listen to their feelings
If a child knows you are listening, they are more likely to talk out their problems and find their own solutions. If their issues are falling on deaf ears, the child doesn’t have a chance to troubleshoot. Try Mindfulness in Action through Life Skills Group to learn vital skills for coping in young people.
Encourage and reward successes
As McCormack says, it’s not just the end game, you need to cheer the child on during tasks, problems, and stages. Encouragement is confidence building, and resilience is gained through confidence. Programs like ‘Empowering the Individual’ at Life Skills Group can help.
Avoid eliminating all risk
By accommodating every request and eliminating risks for young people, they are not learning to cope on their own or build strategies to overcome obstacles. It is not our job as adults to move the goal posts, it is our job to teach how best to kick the goal.
Let kids make mistakes
To err is human. It’s crucial we fail in order to succeed better next time. Without problems, there are no solutions. Kids need to make mistakes, fall over, fail and make a mess in order to work out how to make things work. Healthy Skills for Classrooms is a program by Life Skills Group that can provide advice and practical lessons.
Show them you’re on their side
Get involved. Don’t ‘save’ them or bail them out of sticky situations, but do make sure your kids know you’re in their corner. Knowing they have a god support network will allow children to feel confident that they can make mistakes, learn from them and try again because you’re there for them.