What is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from the ups and downs of life that we all navigate through. These stresses, strains, lows, challenges, traumas, and tragedies are all inevitable to some extent throughout life; we cannot change the fact that the children we know and care about, will face them. We can, however, help children develop skills to meet life’s challenges so they can weather the storms and emerge relatively unscathed. Resilience is a skill, and it can be nurtured! A resilient child is more likely to be able to adapt, explore and conquer; therefore, truly fulfilling their potential.
In her (undated) article on Building Resilience in Children, Psychologist Karen Young not only provides easily digestible information on resilience, the brain, and how resilience affects behaviour; she also gives 20 practical strategies for nurturing resilience in children. I love these strategies because they give any parent or carer something to hold onto. I’d encourage you to read the full article written by Karen (by following the link below) but – for now – here are her 20 practical strategies.
- Provide the child with a reliable, caring, and responsive adult
- Increase the child’s contact to people who care about them
- Let the child know it is ok to ask for help
- Build the child’s executive functioning e.g. establish routines, play memory games, provide opportunities for thinking and acting independently
- Encourage mindfulness
- Encourage exercise (and I would include proprioceptive activities here)
- Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery e.g. I liked the way you solved the problem of untangling that knot
- Nurture optimism e.g. It’s disappointing we can’t have a party for your birthday because of lockdown. How about we have a Zoom party instead and get pizza delivered to your friends’ homes so you can share the same food? More cake for us though!
- Teach the child how to reframe challenges e.g. It’s frustrating it’s raining when we wanted to have a picnic. How about an indoor picnic instead and we can try and get as many toys around the picnic blanket as possible?
- Model resiliency yourself e.g. I’m upset I lost my favourite pair of gloves because a friend gave them to me so they were special. I even looked behind me on the seat when we got off the bus. I’ll ring the bus company to see if they have been handed in. If not, I will treat myself to a pair I saw in the city last week that I really liked and didn’t buy as I already had some!
- Let the child face fears with support. We don’t go straight into an exam or perform in a play without revising or rehearsing first. Support the child by facing fears with baby steps and role play. It really can work!
- Encourage children to take safe, considered and age- appropriate risks
- Don’t rush to the child’s rescue. I like the idea of seeing some exposure to stress as immunisation, helping to build up resistance.
- Meet the child where they are emotionally; do not rush them
- Nurture a growth mindset, that is, believing that people have the potential to change
- Let the child know you trust their capacity to cope and any losses can be coped with, including by you!
- Build the child’s problem-solving toolbox. Language and self-talk really help here.
- Make time for creativity and play; it is in these moments that problem solving can really fly and be a rehearsal for life’s problems
- Let the child talk; As the adult, you don’t need to have all the answers. Be their sounding board.
- Try “how” not “why”; for example, The cat is dressed in your doll’s clothes. It’s not okay for her to stay like that. How can we fix it so she feels comfortable?
Read the full article here https://www.heysigmund.com/building-resilience-children/