How to Bring Up Resilient Children
Are you familiar with the term “helicopter parent?” It describes a mother or father who “hovers” over their child 24/7, managing their life to keep them from every potential danger, pitfall and mishap. It may sound helpful, but this kind of parenting forgets one important fact of reality: life happens.
Adversity happens to all of us. Those children who engage with adversity in their formative years learn how to handle it well and come up with strategies and solutions. These are the kids who grow up to be resilient, getting right back up when life knocks them down a few pegs.
Kids and Teens with Anxiety Can Feel Anything But Resilient
Unfortunately, kids and teens with anxiety often feel anything but resilient. And parenting them can feel like a real struggle.
Kids who experience irrational fears or phobias often feel on edge and anxious, needing constant reassurance that they’re going to be okay. If they’re also unsure of how to interact socially with peers or teachers, then feelings of embarrassment, judgement or rejection can surface.
Likewise, teens with anxiety often get stressed easily especially with schoolwork which can lead to perfectionism and procrastination. They often struggle with strong emotions which can come out as irritation or anger. They may also dislike advocating for themselves or having to talk to adults for fear that they’ll embarrass themselves.
7 Ways Parents Can Raise Resilient Kids
The good news is that even if your child struggles with anxiety, you can still raise them to be resilient. Here are 8 ways to do just that.
Plant the right mindset.
How your child sees the world and their own potential in it directly informs how they make decisions. Teach them a positive and empowering mindset from the beginning. Teach them that failure does not exist, only learning what works and what doesn’t work.
Failing grades and losing games are not the end of the world, though they may feel like it. What really matters is the commitment and effort they put into reaching their goal.
Praise their efforts not their achievements.
The way we praise our kids can affect their mindset and their inclination to take on challenges and persevere. Instead of giving “person praise” like, “You’re so smart,” or “You’re so creative,” try to give “process praise.” Focus on your child’s effort, as in, “I can tell you’ve been working really hard.”
You can also give specific praise, like, “You really understand decimals!” Praising your child in this way can help them develop a growth mindset, believing that their abilities will grow through hard work and challenges.
Don’t meet their every need.
A child will never be able to develop their own coping strategies if you’re there every second making sure they never become hurt or disappointed. Do your best to NOT overprotect your children and give them some space to figure it out all on their own.
Children who know how to tackle challenges head-on will grow to be resilient. These children can take failures and disappointment in stride and figure out next steps.
Teach kids to problem solve.
Along the same lines, it’s important that you teach your children to effectively solve problems. When your child comes to you with a problem, help them brainstorm ways to address the challenge.
For example, if your child is nervous about a test, talk through specific solutions like developing a study schedule, finding effective study strategies, and managing time. As you brainstorm, help your child consider what the results might be for each solution they propose.
Help your children connect.
Social children who are well connected to others feel a sense of support and resilience. Authentic relationships provide a safe space and trusted people to talk to about their feelings. Help socialize your child as soon as possible so they can form deep connections on their own as they grow.
If your child struggles in this area, trying role playing what to say when meeting new people. Or if need be, enroll them in a social skills class to gain confidence.
Let them take some risks.
All parents want to keep their kids safe, but there comes a point when you have to let go a bit and allow them to learn HOW to be safe on their own. For instance, one day your child will need to get their driver’s license. You can help that older child be a safe driver by allowing their younger self to ride their bicycle around the neighborhood. This will teach them to pay attention, look both ways, etc.
Let children make mistakes.
When your child does a hurried, poor job on a school project, you may feel a strong urge to help them improve or fix it. If you’re busy at work and your child calls to say they left their homework on the table, you may want to rush to the rescue. Don’t.
As uncomfortable as it is to let our children make mistakes, this is one way that kids develop resiliency. If your child never makes mistakes, they’ll never learn how to fix their errors or make better decisions in the future.
Resiliency isn’t something that’s automatically handed down to kids; it’s something that must be instilled and molded over time. Planting these seeds now will set your child up for success in the future.
Begin Online Therapy for Kids and Teens with Anxiety in Illinois and now Florida!
As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, call me at 224-236-2296 or email Helena@BrieflyCounseling.com to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.
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Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.