Between a global pandemic, mass shootings, the threat of a war, and social justice issues, now more than ever parents need to know how to raise resilient children.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “helicopter parent” It describes a parent that ‘hovers’ over their child 24/7, overseeing their life to keep them from every potential danger, pitfall and mishap. It sounds all well and good, but this style of parenting neglects one important fact: The job of the parent isn’t to prevent the child from getting hurt (physically or emotionally), but to teach them how to pick themselves back up after they do.
Adversity happens to all of us. However, children who engage with adversity in their formative years learn how to handle it well and develop strategies and solutions. These are the kids that grow up to be resilient, getting right back up when life knocks kicks them in the teeth.
How to raise resilient children
1. Foster 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 and you’ll teach them resilience. Teach them that failure does not exist, only learning what works and what doesn’t. Failing grades and losing games aren’t the end of the world, though they may feel like it (and don’t be dismissive about their feelings when it happens ????).
What really matters is the commitment and effort they put into reaching their goal.
2. Don’t Meet Their Every Need
Your child will never be able to develop their own coping strategies if you’re there every second making sure they never get hurt or disappointed. Steer clear of overprotecting your children, but rather give them the space to figure things out on their own.
3. Teach Them Social Skills
Social children who feel connected to others engender a sense of support and resilience. Authentic relationships provide a safe space and someone to talk to about hopes, dreams, fears, and everything in between. Help socialize your child with other kids as soon as possible so they learn how to form deep connections on their own as they grow.
4. Encourage and Allow Them To Take Risks
Obviously as a parent, you want to keep your kids safe, but there comes a point when you’ve got to let go and let them learn how to be safe on their own. For instance, one day your child will get their driver’s license. You can help the 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.
5. Teach Them the Right Skills
Instead of focusing on the danger or uncomfortableness of a situation, teach your child how to navigate through it. For instance, if she is going away to summer camp for the first time, brainstorm some ideas of how she can learn to be comfortable away from home. Pack her favorite blanket. Talk to her about calling you at certain times to check in. Teach her how to solve her own problems. This is one of the greatest gifts parents can give.
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 their future. If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety from parenting (or anything else), find an awesome therapist you like and trust to help.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.