Leading child psychologists believe resilient kids are great problem solvers. Such kids are capable of finding good solutions when confronted with unfamiliar or challenging situations. There are various challenges your child faces everyday, while progressing from childhood to adulthood. He gets bullied, makes new friends, changes schools or locality, falls sick, gets those braces, and even gets hurt on occasions. A kid can glide through these challenges with the help of one essential quality – Resilience. Resilient kids tend to find a way out of every tough situation and tackle the adversities better than other kids. But, it does not however mean that they are able to tackle all problems on their own. They are just smart enough to ask for help when needed and solve the other steps themselves.
Having said that, raising a resilient kid needs a different kind of mindset. As a parent, you want to gift your child a comfortable life, where there are no problems. You try to stay ahead and protect your child from every problem he is going to run into. But life does not follow a streamlined path, does it? Every now and then, he will run into an unfamiliar situation, which you cannot protect him from. Often parents are dictated by their own bitter experiences and do not want the kid to undergo the same pain. So, you shield your kid from every worst case scenario possible. But, in doing so, you are missing the point: you cannot be with your kid all the time! And when you are not around, the kid has to solve his own problems. So, here are some tips to raise a resilient child.
Tip #1: Do not over protect your kids
By trying to protect your child from all the troubles and problems coming in his way, you are hampering his development. When over protected, children do not develop the problem-solving and mastery skills, which are very important in their future life. On the contrary, by being too protective you lead him towards anxiety. A simple example would help you understand the scenario better. You are responsible for picking up your kid from school everyday, and to do that you reach the premises half an hour before the school ending time. One day, you get stuck in the traffic and are not able to reach on time. When the child does not see you, he becomes anxious and does not know what to do! If the child had problem-solving skills he would try to contact you by some mean and sort out the situation.
Tip #2: Allow the kid age appropriate freedom
For some parents, their child is never old enough to take simple risks like learning new skills. This is also a form of being over protective. When you do not let the child try new things, how can you expect him to learn? Again an example would be ideal here. Suppose your child is 5-6 year old, you have to encourage him to start riding a bicycle. Within a few years, he would learn how to ride a motor bike and then get a driving license for himself. So, exposing the child to age appropriate risks is always wise for parents.
Tip #3: Encourage the child to solve his problems
Just because you are around, does not mean you will always be there when the kid faces any problems. Many kids are very nervous whenever a new situation arises. You can help them overcome such anxieties by guiding them in solving problems. Suppose, your kid is going on a night trip from school, and he is very nervous about how to sleep in a camp. Now, if you are over protective you would save the child from the anxiety by asking him not to go on the trip at all. But on the other hand, if you encourage the kid to have a discussion with you on how he can overcome the challenges of sleeping in a camp and listen to his solutions, then you are encouraging his problem solving capabilities.
Tip #4: Teach your kid life skills
Just like you help your kid with all the study related learning, you should also become his coach in the process of learning life skills. You may identify some skills that he will need when tackling an unfamiliar situation or take up new skills in which the kid is struggling. Suppose your child is very shy, you could start with a simple exercise on how to greet new people and then start conversing with them. This could help your shy kid socialize better.
Tip #5: Replace “Why” with “How” questions
Child psychologists believe that “why” questions lead to self-doubts among the children. Often they are too immature to give a logical reply to your question. So, the best way is to replace the question with “how”. Finding it hard to comprehend? Let us explain. Suppose your son has left the bike out in the rain. If you ask “Why did you leave the bike out in the rain?” what will the child reply? May be he will say I did not know rain was coming, or that I am too small to understand how that can be bad, etc. While if you ask the kid “Your bike’s chain has rusted because you left it out in the rain. How will you fix it?” This will force the kid to think and come up with a solution. He might ask around from other friends, or find some way out himself – anyway he is solving a problem.
Tip #6: Start saying “I don’t know”
Your kid might approach you all day long with a long list of questions. In common situations, you would answer them and the kid thinks you have so much knowledge. But you would do the kid a large favor by saying “I don’t know” at certain times. On hearing this, the child would be forced to find the answers himself and in the process, his problem solving skills will be enhanced.
Tip #7: Avoid Catastrophic Talk
Anxious parents tend to inflict their feelings upon the kids. So, it is very important that you think before speaking. Rather than projecting a catastrophic image in front of the kid (which makes him fear the task more than ever), tell him why learning the skill would be great. So, rather than saying “I want you to learn swimming because if you do not you will drown someday”, use a logical statement such as “It is important for you to learn swimming, because we are planning a seaside trip and you can only bathe in the sea if you learn swimming”.
Tip #8: Allow them the liberty of making mistakes
Failure is a great experience, as it allows the kids to learn about their shortcomings and makes them think about ways to overcome it. Kids will make mistakes, have slip-ups and make a mess of situations; but these will help him make better decisions next time around. Whenever the kid is given an assignment from the school, the parents try to make it perfect and do the work themselves. This way they are not exposing the kid to the challenges of the assignment and defeating its purpose altogether. Ask the child to do it himself, his output might not be as perfect as others in his class but at least he would have learned a lot in the process. If a little failure can lead to future success, the risk is worth taking!
Tip #9: Emotional Management
Your kids should be able to express their true emotions. You should always console them by telling it is alright to be angry, cry, feel frustrated, etc. But along with it, you should also learn to ride on the emotions to teach them essential lessons. Maybe your child has just lost an important football match, and he is disappointed. You could use his disappointment for future success by telling him: “Success does not always come your way. You have to give a 100% and work harder next time.”
Tip #10: Mold your own behavior
You cannot showcase anxiety while asking your child to be resilient. Children learn a great deal by watching the behavior of their parents. So, when you yourself try to see the brighter side of things, solve everyday problems and use your emotions better, it will reflect back on the child’s behavior.
Hope, we have been able to help you infuse a sense of resilience in your kid.