It is not possible to protect our children from all challenges or problems, and we shouldn’t try. What’s important is to teach children skills and behaviors to help them succeed in life. Fostering resilience will help them navigate challenges while keeping stress at a reasonable level.
The American Psychological Association offers these tips to build resilience in children and teens:
Teach empathy and how to make friends. Build a strong network of family and friends to provide support through inevitable disappointments and hurts.
Helping others is empowering. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work or ask for help with a task.
Move toward goals
Teach your child to set reasonable goals and then to move toward them step by step. Praise for even small bits of progress will put the focus on what has been accomplished rather than what hasn’t.
Maintain a daily routine
Sticking to a routine can be comforting, especially for younger children who crave structure.
Take a break
What your child is exposed to can be troubling, whether it be news, the internet or overheard conversations. Make sure your child takes a break from those things.
Nurture a positive self-view
Help your child remember ways that he or she has successfully handled hardships in the past and how these past challenges help build the strength for future challenges. Help your child learn to trust that they can solve problems and make appropriate decisions. Show the humor in life, and the ability to laugh at oneself.
Keep things in perspective, stay hopeful
Explain there is a future beyond an upsetting situation and that the future can be good. A positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going in hard times.
Be a good example and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise and rest. Make sure there is time for fun and downtime to relax.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery
Tough times are often when children learn the most about themselves. Help your child see challenges as ways to learn to trust in inner strength and competence.
Accept that change is part of living
Change can be scary. Help your child see that change is part of life and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable.