We all want our children to be resilient – but how do we make sure we send them out into the world with this super life skill?
Here are Sunflower we are increasingly hearing from distressed parents whose children seem unable to cope with the challenges life throws at them.
So why is this happening and what can we do to help our children?
Kimberley Wellesley-Wood Psychotherapist and Counsellor FdA BACP explains: “The young generation today have so much access to over stimuli, in and out of the classroom. School and college class numbers are getting larger and family constellations are adapting (step families etc). There are also social media pressures to contend with that create ‘adult problems in a child’s world’.
“This can all lead a child/adolescent to feel overwhelmed and display negative behaviour patterns in order to cope. They can seem to be unequipped to deal with the smallest things. This isn’t necessary true. It is important that schools and parents equip and encourage children to explore and understand their world and gain positive coping mechanisms.”
Here are four techniques you can use to help your children build resilience:
Practice what you preach
This sounds simple but sharing your wisdom is very valuable. Sit down with your child and talk through the day’s events. Critique them. What did you do? What could you have done differently? Then ask them to do the same. Demonstrating humility to your child shows them how they can overcome obstacles in life so that they don’t feel like they have to ‘get it right’ all the time.
Focus on achievements
The brain is developed to store trauma (this word sounds severe but trauma can be as simple as a noisy classroom, an accident at home etc. Trauma stems from how the child responds to the event.) This means that we often forget to praise ourselves and focus on what we are achieving, instead of what we want to achieve. Start small such as asking a child what they feel most proud about. What they like, dislike. What they could change next time. In a competitive world, be kind to yourself.
To be able to become resilient to situations we have to be aware. Being mindful of our holistic self, how we feel in our minds, body and heart. How we react to certain situations helps us understand ourselves better. When we can develop this awareness we can become resilient to those things we face. Try practicing some mindfulness techniques with your children.
It’s natural to want to protect your children from the risk of disappointment, failure, upset, even embarrassment. Nobody likes to see their child upset. But resilience is ultimately ‘the ability to bounce back’ and you can only learn this ability by experience.
Allow your child to face these normal emotions of everyday life and support them in finding positive ways to cope and deal with them. For example:
- Praise them for taking part in a race that they came last in
- Talk about disappointing test results as a learning process
- Encourage them not to avoid activities just because they don’t excel in them
- If a child is being unpleasant to them at school, look at how it might be an opportunity to spend some time with another child who they might identify as needing a friend.
Kimberley adds: “In each of us there is strength, integrity and courage, we didn’t know we had or could have. We just have to develop the gateway within ourselves to access it.”
Sunflower has supported hundreds of children who have needed something extra to improve their overall wellbeing. To find out more: 01483 531 498, email@example.com.
BACP is the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy