Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from hard times, manage difficult feelings and cope with day-to-day stresses and major life events. Resilient children are more likely to have happier relationships, be successful with school and live healthier lives. Parents can help children learn resilience. You can help your child to:
Recognize and accept feelings
- Children learn by watching us. Model how you accept different emotions
- Talk about feelings
- Help your child to recognize their own emotions
Express feelings in appropriate ways
- Help children to learn words, expressions and actions that are okay
- Weddings, funerals and celebrations are opportunities for children to learn how your family and culture express and cope with emotions
- Help your child talk about feelings. Ask them how they feel about events and how they think others might be feeling
- Watch your child for signs of stress that they might not be able to put into words, like being fussier. Use play, art, or pretend games to help your child express their fears.
Develop a positive outlook
- Help your child to look at the sunny side of life and appreciate simple pleasures
- Encourage your child to be a “thought catcher” - replace negative thoughts with more positive ones
Use coping skills
- Set a good example. Let your child see how you deal with problems.
- Encourage your child to find their own answers, rather than solving problems for them
- Teach your child relaxation and breathing techniques to manage stress
Manage tough emotions
- Emotions like anger, jealousy, rejection and loss are part of everyday life
- Help your child when they are distressed, be available, and listen. Children need to know that parents understand how they are feeling
- Stay calm and avoid getting angry or upset
Cope with stressful life events
- Be available, reassure them of their safety and help them work through the crisis
- During stress and change, spend extra time with your child to help them feel secure. Maintain your family routine so your child will know what to predict.
- While routines are important, your child also needs unstructured time to relax and play. Some children can be stressed by upsetting news stories; don’t hide what is happening, but taking a break from “plugged in” time can help.
- Praise your child for their efforts in facing their fears
- Seek professional help if anxiety and fears are interfering with day-to-day life
Sources: Reaching In...Reaching Out (2012) and Triple P Positive Parenting Program, Raising Resilient Children, 2004