How to build resilience in children: tips for parents

The journey from adolescence to adulthood is marked by challenges – the pressures of academic success, peer relationships, career ambitions, propensity for intimate relationships, need for autonomy and experimentation, changing family dynamics and the ever-evolving digital landscape. These can take their toll on young minds. That’s why it’s important to know how to build resilience in children.

Children may experience emotional setbacks that lead them toward unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance use, conflict, school dropout, as well as increase vulnerability to anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicide attempts.

To meet these challenges, it is critical to focus on ways to build resilience in children, equipping them with the tools they need to navigate life’s ups and downs .

What is resilience?

Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from adversity, adapt to change, and thrive despite challenging circumstances. It is not about avoiding difficulties, but about developing the ability to deal with them effectively and learn from them. Resilience is not a static characteristic. Instead, it is a skill that can be cultivated and strengthened over time.

Failures can leave children with mixed emotions. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the ways to build resilience in children?

1. Improve the bond between parents and children

Parents and guardians should actively listen and engage in non-judgmental conversations, validating young people’s emotions and experiences. It has been found that when young people know they have a reliable support system, they are more likely to seek help when needed. Young people should be encouraged to communicate their thoughts and feelings to these individuals, promoting a sense of belonging and security. Knowing that they are not alone in their struggles can provide comfort and encouragement during difficult times and build resilience. By setting limits on their device use and encouraging them to engage in offline activities, they can disconnect and focus on developing real-world connections, which are essential for building resilience.

2. Develop healthy coping skills

Teaching young people to prioritize their physical, emotional and mental well-being sends the message that their health matters. Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, journaling, and engaging in creative expressions such as art or music can all serve as healthy ways to process emotions and promote self-care. They can build resilience by strengthening their overall well-being. Teaching them to identify their feelings and express them in a constructive way can prevent emotional repression and promote emotional intelligence.

3. Make it normal to talk about failure

It is important that young people learn to embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a reflection of their self-worth. When they understand that setbacks are part of the learning process and do not define it, they are more likely to persevere and remain optimistic even in the face of setbacks. That is one of the most important ways to promote resilience in children.

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4. Encourage realistic goals and setting expectations

Children should be guided in setting goals for both the short and long term, whether these are related to studies, hobbies or personal development. The sense of achievement that comes from achieving these goals can boost their self-confidence and resilience. Unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress in children. It is crucial to set goals that are achievable and that match the young person’s individual strengths and interests.

Help your child become resilient
Setting unrealistic expectations can take a toll on your child. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Find a supportive school and college environment

Schools and universities play an important role in the development of young people. It is imperative that they implement programs to promote emotional intelligence and mental health awareness, celebrate failures and promote anti-bullying initiatives. These can reduce pressure and increase well-being. Teachers can also be trained to recognize signs of student problems and provide appropriate resources.

6. Seek professional help

While building resilience is crucial, it is important to recognize that some situations require professional intervention. If a young individual is experiencing persistent feelings of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, it is essential to seek help from a qualified mental health professional.

The last word

Improving mental health by promoting resilience in children is a multifaceted approach that requires collective efforts from parents, educators and society as a whole. As we invest in their resilience, we invest in their ability to live fulfilling lives with strong mental and emotional well-being.

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