How to Bring Up Resilient Kids and Teens with Anxiety

Photo of Caucasian parent putting bubble wrap around his son's arm who is wearing a helmet and arm pads. Photo could represent the father's fears that son might get hurt from skateboarding or roller blading. Photo could also represent the need for the father to undergo some parent training in order to help his son grow in resilience.

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.

In a world that seems to change faster than we can keep up, instilling resilience in our kids and teens with anxiety becomes not just a goal but a necessity.

Raising resilient children isn’t about wrapping them in bubble wrap or shielding them from every hardship. Instead, it’s about arming them with the tools and mindset to weather life’s storms and emerge stronger on the other side. Resilient kids get 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 anxiety often feel on edge and emotional, 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 can struggle with strong emotions which sometimes 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.

When anxiety takes over, it can make even small problems seem huge and make it tough to deal with challenges. This constant worrying results in kids and teens who doubt themselves and believe they can’t handle tough situations.

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 7 ways to do just that.

Plant the right mindset

Planting the right mindset is important because it helps them see challenges as opportunities to grow and learn. When kids have a positive mindset, they are more likely to bounce back from setbacks and keep trying, even when things get tough.

It also helps kids develop problem-solving skills. Instead of feeling stuck when faced with a problem, they learn to think creatively and come up with solutions. This empowers them to tackle challenges with confidence.

Moreover, a positive mindset teaches kids to focus on what they can control rather than worrying about things they can’t change. This helps them stay calm and focused during difficult times, making it easier to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.

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.

When kids have confidence in themselves, they are more likely to persevere in the face of adversity and believe that they can overcome challenges with effort and determination. 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

Praising kids for their efforts instead of just their achievements helps them become more resilient because it teaches them that hard work and perseverance are what really count. When parents focus on praising their efforts, it encourages kids to keep trying, even when things don’t go perfectly the first time. 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 practice.

When kids receive praise for their efforts, they learn that failure is just a part of learning and growing. With this mindset, they’re more likely to bounce back from setbacks and keep working towards their goals.

Moreover, praising efforts instead of achievements helps kids build intrinsic motivation. Instead of seeking approval from others, they learn to take pride in their own progress and accomplishments. This inner drive is essential for resilience because it helps kids stay motivated even when faced with setbacks.

They learn to value themselves for who they are and the effort they put into things, rather than just the results they achieve. This approach gives them a strong sense of self-esteem that can withstand criticism or failure.

Don’t meet their every need

Not meeting every need for your child can actually help them become more resilient. When parents don’t fulfill every want or desire, it teaches kids important lessons about independence, problem-solving, and coping with disappointment. This builds their problem-solving skills and confidence in their ability to handle challenges.

Experiencing occasional disappointment or frustration when their needs aren’t immediately met is a valuable life lesson. Your child will learn that setbacks are a normal part of life and that they have the strength to overcome them.

Not meeting every need also encourages kids to become more self-reliant and resourceful. Instead of always relying on others to fulfill their needs, they learn to take the initiative, and find alternative ways to meet their needs.

Additionally, experiencing some level of discomfort or inconvenience teaches kids the value of patience and perseverance. They learn that good things often take time and effort, which helps build resilience in the face of obstacles.

Teach kids and teens with anxiety 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.

Problem-solving skills help kids approach problems with a positive attitude and a belief in their ability to find solutions. This mindset is essential for resilience because it empowers children to face obstacles head-on rather than feeling overwhelmed or defeated by them.

Problem-solving also teaches kids to think critically and analytically, enabling them to break down complex problems into manageable steps. This helps them develop a systematic approach to problem-solving, which is an invaluable skill for overcoming challenges in all areas of life.

Lastly, problem-solving skills teach kids the importance of persistence. They learn that not every problem has an easy solution, and that success often requires patience, determination, and thinking outside the box. This resilience in the face of adversity is a key ingredient for success in life.

Help your child connect

Helping your child to connect with others is important for raising resilient kids because it builds a support network that they can rely on during tough times.

When kids feel connected to family, friends, and their community, they have a sense of belonging and acceptance. This helps boost their self-esteem and confidence, which are important components of resilience.

Having strong connections with others provides kids with emotional support during difficult times. Knowing that they have people they can turn to for help and encouragement helps them cope with stress and adversity more effectively.

Connecting with others helps kids develop important social skills, such as communication and empathy. These skills not only enhance their relationships but also enable them to seek and provide support when needed. If your child struggles in this area, try role-playing what to say when meeting new people. Or if need be, enroll them in a social skills class to gain confidence.

Strong connections with others also provide kids with diverse perspectives and resources that can help them solve problems and navigate challenges more successfully. Whether it’s advice from a trusted adult or a helping hand from a friend, having a network of support strengthens kids’ ability to overcome obstacles.

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. Encouraging kids to take risks is important because it helps them learn valuable lessons about courage, independence, and problem-solving.

Taking risks teaches kids that it’s okay to fail and that failure is a natural part of learning and growing. When children understand that setbacks are opportunities for growth rather than reasons to give up, they develop resilience and perseverance.

It also helps kids build confidence in their abilities. When they step out of their comfort zone and try new things, they discover their strengths and capabilities, which boosts their self-esteem and resilience.

Taking risks fosters creativity and innovation in children. By encouraging them to explore new ideas and approaches, parents help kids develop the flexibility and adaptability they need to overcome struggles and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Lastly, taking risks teaches kids important decision-making skills. When they weigh the potential risks and rewards of a situation and make informed choices, they learn to trust their judgment and take responsibility for their actions, which are essential components of resilience.

Let your child 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.

Making mistakes helps kids learn to take responsibility for their actions. When children experience the consequences of their mistakes, they develop a sense of accountability and learn to make better choices in the future.

Making mistakes also teaches kids resilience by showing them that failure is not the end of the road, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning. When children understand that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, they become more resilient and persistent in the face of adversity.

Lastly, allowing kids to make mistakes boosts their self-confidence and self-esteem. When they overcome obstacles and learn from their mistakes, they develop a sense of pride in their abilities and become more willing to take risks and try new things.

In conclusion, 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!

If your child or teen is struggling with anxiety, there is hope! Anxiety is highly treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.

Using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.

And kids love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling.

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 to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 18 as well as Christian counseling.

Whether you’re on the North Shore, in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Barrington, Libertyville, Glenview, or downstate Illinois, I can help.

And effective 2024, I am now licensed in Florida! For parents in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Destin, Crestview, Coral Gables, Weston, Parkland, Naples, Marco Island, and Pinecrest, I have immediate openings.

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.