How to Nurture Resilience in Children

ImageErin just wrote a post on stress and children and I answered a question a while back about busy kids. But what does it look like to really nurture resilience in children? How do we increase our children's self esteem while making sure that they develop the emotional tools to navigate hardship and challenge? The good news is, we can do both at the same time! Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Relax. If you're not having fun you may be pushing your kids too hard.
  • Allow kids time for free play. It's a great natural way for children to learn how to manage their behavior and resolve conflict.
  • Praise your child, but be sure to make the praise authentic and meaningful. In other words, connect praise with wholehearted efforts and actions.
  • Provide care, nurturing, and support, but don't always swoop in to bail your child out of a difficult situation.
  • Help your child process the situation afterwards. "What did you learn? How did it make you feel to resolve that conflict? What might you do differently next time?"
  • Validate your child's frustration and acknowledge when something is difficult. "It makes sense that you are frustrated, geometry can be really challenging. I am really proud that you are sticking with it though. I can't solve this for you but why don't you explain to me what you've done so far."
  • Be patient with your child's efforts. You may be able to do a better or faster job of something, but your child loses the opportunity to learn when you take over.
  • Have realistic but high expectations for your child's behavior.
  • Help your children build friendships and make connections by teaching them how to manage their own behavior and emotional impulses.
  • Expect children to do their chores and participate in the life and work of the family.
  • Back up teachers and schools. Fighting with teachers to boost your child's grade isn't doing anyone any favors. If you have a real concern about your child's performance schedule an individual meeting and come up with a plan together.
  • Encourage your kids to volunteer and help out others.
  • Absolutely swoop in and protect your child if they are experiencing inappropriate levels of stress resulting from bullying, violence, harassment or other threats to their feeling of safety.

Do you have other tips for nurturing resilience in children? We'd love to hear them.

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Dr. Dave Walsh

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