How To Build Resilience In Children 

 27 January 2021

By  Karen Cruise

If 2020 has shown anything, it is how resilient we all are, including children.

From exams being cancelled to going back and forth between schools, distance learning and homeschooling; kids have had to handle serious setbacks and adjustments.

Dealing with all that the pandemic has thrown at children, it has been resilience that has got them through.

While studies are important, it is the personal development of key skills such as resilience that help set kids up for the ‘real world’ and the future.

As parents, teachers and carers of children what we want most is to keep equipping children with the ability to handle whatever life throws at them – this is the true nature of resilience.

Understanding Resilience

These days, so many children, teenagers and young adults are branded as ‘snowflakes’ by older generations.

The dictionary describes snowflakes as;

“young adults, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to offence than previous generations”.

However, children do have resilient capabilities.

All kids and young adults have the potential to overcome stressful events and work through any challenges they may face.

Just like many skills, resilience is one that you can keep developing and improving.

So, what can parents, carers and teachers do to help boost resilience in children?

Resilience Challenges That Children Face

There are lots of hurdles that children face, which can require a lot of resilience.

These are situations that can leave a child feeling hurt, stressed, upset, disappointed and ashamed.

Situations include;

  • Not getting expected grades
  • Struggling with exams
  • Having disagreements with friends
  • Conflict with peers
  • Not receiving expected compliments/praise
  • Actions that disappoint parents
  • Feeling disappointment or letting themselves down.

With all of these situations as well as any others you may face, there is a want for the child to be able to make sense of the situation and then bounce back.

This is resilience and can help children to feel better about themselves.

If a child struggles to come back stronger after challenges, then it may be worthwhile looking at some resilience-boosting strategies.

Developing this vital skill is not only important for preparing children for the setbacks they may face in later life, but there is also strong evidence suggesting that resilience is vital for mental health.

In one study, 83% of experts believe that increasing resilience in children could potentially prevent mental health issues during childhood and later life.

So, what can we do to help build resilience in children?

Three Resilience-Boosting Strategies For Young People

1. Always Look For Alternative Possibilities

While it may seem pessimistic to prepare a child for failure, there is a lot to be said for building an open-minded approach.

With this, a young person doesn’t simply believe there is one option or one route to success.

Instead, plan for different eventualities and explore a range of possibilities which might work.

With this, the child will learn that there is no shame in having an alternative route.

In fact, the idea of having a ‘Plan B’ can be incredibly reassuring, reducing the pressure or stress they may face in getting something right, the first time.

There are lots of ways to plan for possibilities, from discussions to mindmaps.

However you approach the alternative possibilities it is crucial to discuss the feelings that come with all of the different options.

With every approach, look to normalise any feelings that they may experience with each alternative option.

If the child still feels they only have one option, it can be really important to explore why they think that is.

2. Get Set For (Realistic) Success

Many children and adults see success as a linear trajectory.

They will start on the path and think it is one straight line to get to achievement.

However, success is never just a straight line.

There are diversions, tangents, and sometimes, success requires going backwards in order to move forwards again.

At Flourished Minds, we focus our motto on ‘cruising to success’. However, we don’t mean that it is just one journey.

Cruising up the river of success may mean following different streams, perhaps turning back to look at something more closely or anchoring down and staying in one place for a while.

All of this is still progress and is still heading towards success. In fact, this is exactly what success looks like for any goal.

When we have in our minds that reaching a goal is a straight line, it can be disappointing and upsetting when there are fluctuations, stagnations or dips.

However, when we understand that the road to success is more of a winding road, with different paths, humps and hurdles, we maintain the motivation to succeed.

3. Understand Your Own Resilience

Resilience can be a learned behaviour, meaning that children may react to adversity in a similar way to you.

With this in mind, it is a good idea to reflect on your own resilience and how you react to challenges.

Do you struggle to pick yourself up after a stumbling block?

Do you make sure to look for the opportunities, possibilities and have a plan B in place, just in case?

Understanding how resilient you are and the behaviours you demonstrate when faced with challenges will be what children will learn from.

With this in mind, it can help to remember that building resilience will start with you.

Enjoy The Journey Not The Destination

It is important to remember that resilience is something that you can continue to build upon. It can be something that you can continue to nurture.

What’s more, as children face a variety of different challenges, there may be areas that need more work to become more resilient.

If your child or student needs more support overcoming obstacles, or you’re looking for more ways to help build a child’s resilience, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch to book a free consultation.

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Karen Cruise - The Young People's Life Coach

Karen isn’t only an experienced, accredited coach, she’s also a hard-working mum with many years of employment in the corporate world, the last 10 at a very senior level.

She’s been described as dynamic, intuitive, unstoppable when it comes to helping young people live their best lives.

You’d be hard-pressed to find to a CEO more committed to helping your child succeed.

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