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Raising Resilient Kids

confident kids intentional parenting parenting tips raising kids Apr 28, 2022

Have you ever wondered how to increase your child’s resilience?  Most parents would agree that they want to raise resilient kids, but they never really stop to think about what it is and how they might help their child develop this trait.  It’s typically not top-of-mind until they are in the midst of a challenge.  Given that we’ve been living through challenges on a global basis, the rising rates of mental health issues with our kids is an indicator that we want to be more intentional about raising resilience in our kids.

Let’s start with the actual definition of resilience: resilience is the ability to cope and recover from life’s challenges.  I’m going to be right up front and address the hardest part about building resilience in your child from a parent’s perspective — you have to let your child go through challenges.  To build resilience your child has to attempt challenging things, and have them not work out as they had hoped.  Your child has to “fail”, figure out how to cope with the failure, learn from the failure, and keep going.

That’s hard for us as parents.  Having watched my children go through challenging times in school, sports, and with friends, I know that it can be heartbreaking to watch your child suffering.  We want to help them, and we search for ways that we can help ease their pain.

Unfortunately, our making things easier for them does not always serve them in the long run.  We can hinder their learning coping skills, as well as confidence in their ability to work through life’s challenges on their own.

Both of my children experienced a number of different challenging periods as children which was hard for them and me.  And as a parent who now has the long term perspective given that my children are older, I can tell you that I would have them go through those challenges all over again.  Even though they were painful for both of us, the challenging times that each of them went through helped them develop skills that have served them well growing into adulthood.  Skills they would not have developed without those challenges.

As a parent how can you intentionally help your child build resilience?  

It starts with curbing your own instincts to help, fix and rescue our kids.  In the top rated pre-schools in the world, children aren’t coddled and they are encouraged to solve problems.  When blocks fall over, a teacher calmly asks what can you do to fix it?  If children present a teacher with a problem, the child is asked if they can think of a solution.

As parents, we can ask our kids questions up front to help them brainstorm different ideas and solutions to challenges by asking for another possible solution.  We can help get them in the habit of continuing past the first possible idea to come up with additional creative options.  Once they have a couple of ideas, we can ask them which one they think is best, then let them try.  They might find “success”, and they might “fail”.  Either way, we can celebrate their efforts and hold the belief that they will figure it out.

Not every team can win, and our kids aren’t going to be good at everything that they do — And that’s okay.  Some things may just take practice, and sometimes we just have to accept that our child does not have the skills or interest to put in the practice required and encourage them to find and develop skills in a subject or activity that does interest them.

When we have faith in our children’s ability to work through challenges and allow them the space to explore their own interests — we help them develop confidence in themselves which gives them the strength to handle challenges.

This may be controversial, but in my opinion, grades in school don't always correlate to predict success in life, and when we focus on helping our children develop confidence, resilience, and emotional intelligence we’re setting them up with skills that do correlate to success in life.

I understand completely that this might go against your natural parenting instincts, and it may take intentional work and restraint to keep from stepping in to try to fix and rescue your kids.  If you want help and support in learning how to do this, please check out my Parent From Neutral process and program.  I have a whole section devoted to helping kids thrive which is filled with strategies and tools, as well as live coaching to help as you learn and implement these new concepts.

When you learn to parent from neutral, you learn how to take the heightened emotions out of parenting so you can parent calmly and effectively when you need to most.  You learn communication strategies to help your kids listen better and a process for calmly working through issues and solving problems.  And you learn how to cultivate confidence, resilience and courage in your children to help them thrive.  Registration opens today and spots are limited.  Click here to learn more.

I will be offering live virtual workshops on Parenting Through Anxiety on Thursday, April 28th, Tuesday May 3rd, and Thursday May 5th to teach the science of anxiety, and a simple strategy to help parent through it.  If you or your child is struggling with anxiety, I highly recommend planning to join me!  You can sign up here. 

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