Many parents wish they could insulate their children from anything that might cause them pain, fear, stress, or disappointment. These kinds of parents take every precaution to make sure their kids are protected and comfortable. They also try to stay a step ahead of every possible challenge or setback that their children may come up against.
At first glance, this might seem like a reasonable or even desirable approach to parenting. After all, no parent wants their children to experience the same difficulties they went through earlier in life.
The problem with this approach, however, is that it’s simply impossible to shield children from every bad circumstance they might encounter. Furthermore, there’s plenty of research to suggest that trying to do so may just make kids even more fearful, anxious, and unable to cope with stress than ever.
Early childhood experts instead recommend that parents teach their children how to tolerate uncertainty and work through their problems. Doing so can help kids develop greater resilience and mental fortitude in the long run.
Given this, it’s a good idea to encourage resilience in your own child as early as possible. After all, a tough, buoyant attitude will serve them well when they enter preschool and begin spending extended periods away from home. If your youngster will soon be attending an international preschool Singapore parents recommend highly, consider trying the following tried-and-tested strategies for raising more resilient kids:
Model Resilient Behaviors around Your Child
Observing and copying the behaviors of people close to them, including and especially their parents, is one of the foremost ways kids learn. With this in mind, you need to demonstrate the behaviors you want your child to pick up and eventually practice in their own life. For instance, if you’d like to teach your child how to control their emotions, it doesn’t make sense to lose your cool in front of them. Try to stay calm and consistent, even and especially in stressful situations.
That being said, parenting is a complicated process that takes a lot of practice, and even the most careful parents will stumble from time to time. When you do make a mistake with your child, acknowledge it, apologize, and talk to them about how you intend to handle similar situations differently in the future. This will help your child internalize another crucial facet of resilience: admitting when you’ve made mistakes and working to rectify them.
Teach Them How to Cope with Specific Feelings
Learning to manage one’s emotions is a key part of becoming more resilient. However, it’s often easier said than done, especially for children who may not fully understand what’s going on whenever they feel overwhelmed.
The first step to teaching your child how to effectively regulate their emotions is to help them learn how to recognize and acknowledge what they’re feeling. Children who can put a name to their state of mind or reaction to particular situations can more easily think of concrete, healthy strategies for dealing with those specific feelings.
For example, a child who can recognize that they feel angry may know that going to a quiet place and taking deep breaths can help them clear their head. A child who knows they’re feeling anxious or afraid may conclude that they should talk to a caregiver or parent to help settle their nerves.
The good news is that parents can start teaching their children how to identify specific feelings as early as the toddler years. One useful trick is to point out physical reactions and facial expressions to your child and help connect these to specific emotions. You can, for instance, teach them to identify smiles and laughter as signs of happiness, frowns and clenched fists as signs of anger, and so on. As your child grows older, continue to help them name the emotions they experience and brainstorm healthy responses to said emotions.
Encourage Them to Ask for Help
Resilience doesn’t mean being able to handle absolutely everything on your own, especially when it concerns stressful or tough situations. Unfortunately, learning to ask for help doesn’t come naturally to many people. And when children notice these behaviors in their parents or other grown-ups around them, they may mistakenly view asking for help as a sign of vulnerability or weakness.
Indeed, some kids may feel shy, ashamed, or afraid to ask the adults in their lives for help. Left unchecked, these attitudes can develop into an unhealthy fixation with appearing independent, self-sufficient, and strong. The worst part is that these harmful tendencies may follow children well into adulthood.
As mentioned above, a young child will look to parents and other trusted adults as models for what behaviors are acceptable or useful to adopt. Given this, make sure to tell your child that there’s nothing wrong with needing help now and then. You can then teach them how to ask for help by using your own experiences as examples. Speak candidly with them about the times you’ve struggled and needed assistance from others, and what steps you took to get the necessary support. Likewise, when your child comes to you for help, demonstrate that you welcome the opportunity to support them.
Let Them Make Mistakes
Many parents are tempted to step in whenever they see their children doing poorly at a particular task, whether it’s homework, a particular game or sport, or an interaction with a peer. Preventing your child from making mistakes, however, gives rise to weak coping skills. This, in turn, hampers their ability to constructively handle stress, pressure, and failure.
While it might be uncomfortable and even painful to see your child fail, experiencing and learning from failure is critical to becoming more resilient. Having the freedom to make mistakes teaches children perseverance and problem-solving skills. It also encourages them to contemplate the consequences of their actions. In the long run, experiencing and dealing with failure helps them better cope with adversity and make sounder decisions in the future.
No parent can hold their children’s hands through all the ups and downs of real life, no matter how much they might want to. Good parents will, however, equip their children with the skills and tools they need to solve problems, recover from failures, and use difficult times as opportunities to grow. Truly, resilience is an extremely important ability that will see any child safely through their early years and serve them well as they grow into adulthood.