How to Teach Resilience to Young Children

Resilience and Young Children: How to Teach Your Kids Its Values

We all know an adult or two who simply cannot cope with life’s small challenges, who has difficulty problem solving and making decisions. As we raise our kids, we must ask ourselves whether our instinct to nurture them, prevent pain and displeasure, and see them succeed is coming at the expense of growing their coping skills and resilience. Our five tips will help you to raise a child who can weather any storm.

  1. Don’t feel as if you need to accommodate all needs and requests. When your child is an infant, it’s second nature to run into the room the second you hear crying, and to respond to every fuss with a solution. But as your child becomes a toddler, a preschooler, and then a grade school student, stepping back and allowing a few needs to go unmet will teach your kids that even when they don’t get everything they expect, life still marches on. 
  1. Stop scrambling to eliminate risk. Many toddler beds in this country have pillows scattered around them to provide a cushion in the event of a fall. How far off the ground is your chid’s toddler bed? A one-foot fall won’t cause any harm. While bike helmets and car seats are necessities, small risks of minor discomfort shouldn’t be eliminated entirely. 
  1. Teach problem-solving. What is your child stressed about? A visit to the doctor? An upcoming field trip with her preschool class? An upcoming school project? Don’t cancel the doctor’s appointment. Don’t keep her from the field trip. Don’t finish her assignment for her. Instead, talk with her about how she will cope with a quick needle from her pediatrician, who she will sit with on the bus on her field trip, and what she will do in order to complete her project.
  1. Stop giving away all of the answers. Yes, the child whose parent does all of his homework for him might get a better grade in the short term, but in the long run, the child who learns how to figure out his homework on his own will continue to be unafraid of achievement and new challenges. 
  1. Let your child fail. Is your child a little behind the other kids in soccer? Don’t schedule one on one time with the coach. Instead, allow your child to make a mistake on the field, learn from that mistake, and impress her teammates when she gains a new skill. Letting a child become comfortable with the temporary discomfort of failure is an important lesson.

It’s difficult to figure out how to walk the line between lifting up our children and meeting their needs, and allowing them to assert their independence, win or lose. How have you worked with your child to build resilience? Let us know in the comments section!


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