Building Resilience in Children
Helping to build resilience in children is important, as it helps improve a child's ability to cope with the ups and downs of life, and bounce back when dealing with the challenges they may face during childhood. This could be:- studying for exams, changing schools, moving home, or dealing with the death of a loved one. For some children, coping with a new area of maths or English, could be so difficult to deal with, they can find it hard to cope and bounce back.
Building resilience is children also gives them the skills to help them deal with challenges as they grow and move through into adulthood. Children with greater resilience are more able to cope with the stresses better and this in turn, is important for their mental health.
How can you help?
As a parent/carer you can help your child develop their skills for building resilience at home by:-
- Build good relationships with others.
- Build their independence.
- Learn to talk and manage emotions.
- Take on challenges to build confidence.
Building Good Relationships
Good relationships are important for resilience, by helping them build and strengthen their relations with children and important adults in their lives.
- Spend quality time with your child.
- Help your child build relationships with other adults.
- Support your child to develop good skills and friendships with peers.
- Help you child develop empathy, as it helps children understand the emotions of others.
Build their Independence
It is natural for parents to want to protect their children from difficult or negative experiences, but children need some exposure to life's challenges. With adult support, working through difficult problems will give a child a chance to develop and grow their resilience.
- Children could start to prepare their school packed lunch.
- Try not to jump in and help straight away if your child is struggling with a task, this can have a negative impact, as the child may feel like they have failed. Giving them the chance to think and solve the issue, will build their resilience and coping skills, and build strategies that they can use in life.
- Help your child develop a plan for when they are feeling left out or stressed about a test, this helps build their problem solving skills and manage emotions.
- Let children be bored occasionally, it will help your child's imagination as they many come up with games etc.
- Ask your child to get their bag and equipment ready for school each night, this will helps them build an understanding of taking responsibility for themselves and help them realise all the skills they have. Plus , it will help with their planning and organising skills, which they can use should stressful time occur.
Learn to talk and manage emotions
Children have to deal with many of the same feelings as adults and experience complex emotions. They get frustrated, excited, nervous sad, jealous and angry. However, young children don't usually have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. instead they communicate their feelings in other ways.
Children can express their feelings through facial expressions, through their body, their behaviour and play. Sometimes, they may act out their feelings in physical, inappropriate or problematic ways. From a very early age children start learning the emotional skills they need to identify, express and manage their feelings. They learn how to do this through their social interactions and relationships with important people in their lives such as parents, grandparents and carers.
Being a parent means you have an important role to play in helping children understand their feelings and behaviours. Children need to be shown how to manage their feelings in positive and constructive ways. When children learn to manage their emotions in childhood it leads to positive attitudes and behaviours later in life.
- Tune into cues, sometimes feelings can be hard to identify. Tune into your child's feelings by looking at their body language, listening to what they're saying and observing their behaviour. Figuring out what they feel and why means you can help them identify, express and manage those feelings better.
- Behind every behaviour is a feeling, try to understand the meaning and feeling behind your child's behaviour. You can help your child find other ways to express that feeling once you know what is driving the behaviour.
- Name the feelings, help your child name the feelings by giving them a label, this helps your child develop their emotional vocabulary.
- Identify feelings in others, provide lots of opportunities to identify feelings on other by looking at cartoons, picture books and films.
- Be a role model.
- Encourage with praise when your child talks about their feelings or expresses them in an appropriate way.
- Listen to your child's feelings, stay present and resist the urge to make your child's bad feelings go away. Support your child to identify and express their feelings so they are heard.
Take on challenges to build confidence
Give children opportunities to join and take part in clubs, after-school activities, and sports clubs they have an interest in. This helps encourage independence and build new friendships. They can also show and talk about their achievements with others. Help the child raise money for a charity important to them, set them an amount to collect etc., this helps build confidence and empathy. If your child sometimes fails academically, the use of sports, drama and after-school clubs, gives them a chance to shine in other areas. You could set your child a challenge to teach other children their skills.