If you’re a parent, we’ve all seen our children fall, figuratively and literally. Sometimes we pick them up and check for bruises, sometimes we pause and see if they’ll pick themselves up. Rarely does a child stay down—they cry, get bruised, but eventually, they stand back up.
That’s exactly what resilience is—it’s the ability to recover after undergoing a challenging situation. Now resilience may sound like something that everyone has, since, after all, we all undergo challenging times in our lives. But you would be surprised on how resilience is on short supply nowadays, especially with the younger set.
Are the ways we’re raising our children contributing to the lack of resilience? Perhaps—parents are a child’s first teacher, and their biggest and lifelong influence. Now that I have a young daughter entering big school, so many fears creep up on me on a daily basis. I’m acutely aware of how different the world is now compared to when I was growing up. Because of social media, the pressure to fit in and to be liked is greater than ever before. Children are growing up thinking that they’re “special snowflakes” who have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and when they find out that they’re even a little less than that or not as well liked as they thought they were, they don’t know how to handle it when life pummels them to the ground.
Helicopter parents will need to step back and let their children take a hit. Before you decry that the flipside of helicopter parenting is neglect, your better judgment will see the difference. Not watching your child while he swims in the adult pool is neglect; watching him while he keeps on trying to pull himself back up to the pool’s edge is stepping back, and taught him that he can do hard things—and that face that they make when they accomplish something is priceless.
It’s never too early to start teaching your kids to be resilient. Merely packing away after play time teaches them how to overcome what they see as a difficult task, or letting them stand up on their own after they trip and fall is a good lesson in resilience. Children of preschool age, when faced with a problem, can be taught how to problem solve. When they come to you with a dilemma (or having a public meltdown), empathize with them, and then define the problem—it’s easier to solve a problem if you know what it is, and it shows that you understand what’s bothering your child. After that, invite your child to come up with a solution—simply guiding them rather than telling them what to do, makes them feel that they’re independent, and can solve their hardships on their own. Plus, this manner of problem solving is something they can do throughout their whole life, and keeps the communication skills between you and your child open and well.
If your children are already of big school age, no need to panic—resilience is a skill that you learn and hone for life. Another important way of strengthening one’s resilience is encouraging a “can do” attitude with everything, from finishing a book report to breaking up with a toxic boyfriend. Remind your child constantly that they can do hard things; that everything can be figured out, and consistently show your support. Believe in their own capabilities to not just excel, but to rise again after a fall.
Maita de Jesus is a writer by profession for over a decade. While her forte are personality profiles and lifestyle pieces, she has since ventured into writing about family and parenting, due to her becoming a mom of one. A graduate of AB Legal Management from the University of Santo Tomas, her deviation from the expected career path was because of her determination to urge others to change for the better through her writing.
If you want to learn more about how to build your child’s resilience, La Vie Institute has an excellent program for kids and young adults that cater in highlighting the importance of EQ, or Emotional Quotient. To know about their programs and ongoing services, visit their website at: www.lavieinstitute.com