Raising a Resilient Child

Mother and teen conversations can prevent harmful drinking behaviorResilient people have the ability to deal more effectively with stress and pressure, cope with everyday challenges and bounce back from disappointments, adversity or trauma.  Many parenting experts believe that resiliency is the most important quality you can instill in your child.  How can you foster resiliency in your child?  While there are many factors, parenting experts recommend the following:

What parents can do to help

  1. Show unconditional love. Love is the most powerful protective factor that parents can give their child. Studies about resiliency have found that kids who overcame a very difficult childhood all had at least one adult in their life who loved and believed in them.  Kids feel loved when they know their parents enjoy being with them.  Schedule one-on-one time with your child daily and give them your undivided attention.  This feeling of specialness is integral to their self-esteem.
  1. Be empathetic. Empathy is feeling from someone else’s perspective and a critical component of all satisfying relationships. By parenting with empathy, you not only foster the healthy, emotional development of your child, but also help your child develop empathy for others.  Listen to your child and acknowledge his/her feelings.  When your child responds with fear, anger, disappointment or sadness, help them identify the emotions they are feeling.  Let them know you understand their feelings.  By acknowledging your child’s feelings you help your child accept his/her own feelings, which in turn allows your child to resolve them.
  1. Treat mistakes as learning experiences. Show your child that it’s okay to make mistakes, that they are expected, and that mistakes can be a part of the learning process. When a mistake is made, instead of chastising your child or telling him/her what they did wrong, engage your child in a discussion concerning what they think went wrong and how they think they could avoid a similar mistake from happening in the future.  By doing so in a positive and encouraging way, your child will learn that making a mistake doesn’t automatically mean that they have failed and that they can use mistakes as a way of learning to find better ways to be successful.    
  1. Focus on strengths. Self-worth and resiliency come from experiencing success in areas of life others deem important. Every child possesses areas of strength and it is important for you as the parent to identify and reinforce these, rather than focus on weaknesses.  Help your child discover their strengths and build confidence by helping him/her set and work toward reasonable goals.  Moving toward a goal and receiving praise along the way will help your child focus on what they can accomplish rather than on failures.  Each time your child achieves a goal or successfully solves a problem on their own, it gives them the confidence and skill to persevere the next time they face a challenge.
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