Raising Resilient Children
Raising resilient children is becoming increasingly important.
Do you ever sit and look back at your own youth and think “where has the time gone”? Last night I was looking through some old photos of myself growing up and it was such a lovely feeling. Reminiscing on happy memories, experiences and relationships formed.
From memory, I was a pretty confident kid and had all the characteristics of a resilient child. Always involved in extra curricular activities; spending time with friends after school; part of a loving family etc. I was very lucky.
But the thought crossed my mind last night while putting my little girl to bed… has this changed for our little ones today? It feels as though, no matter their age, our little ones have to deal with a lot more than we ever did growing up.
Teaching resilience in early childhood and thus raising resilient children who are happy, healthy and confident is something we all strive for, but may not always be as simple as we first think.
From navigating their brand new world at birth; the uncertain and overwhelming emotions of toddlerhood; the stress of schools; exams; bullying; the pressure of the media; social media; adolescence; hormones and the ever more competitive nature of work – the poor things have to manage many trials and tribulations through their journey in to adulthood.
Building the core foundations to happy, healthy and resilient children is vital in today’s modern society and is very different from when you and I were growing up!
What does the data show?
Recent data has worryingly shown “Rates of probable mental disorders have increased since 2017. In 2020, one in six (16.0%) children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder, increasing from one in nine (10.8%) in 2017. The increase was evident in both boys and girls”.
The data is understandably concerning and provokes the important question, how can we start teaching resilience in early childhood?
Raising resilient children doesn’t need to be complicated – in fact, the data shows that by making small adjustments to our language, relationships and types of activities we can definitely help our children on their way.
Top Reads For Raising Resilient Children
As teachers, we massively encourage reading, research and constant learning!
We have personally read each of the books below and thoroughly recommend them.
The first two books are for you! ‘The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read‘ is a real eye opener! Honestly. Written by a Dr and mother, the book looks at ways to be a better parent, how to understand your child as they journey through a range of different stages and techniques to raise children who are strong, resilient and happy. A must read in my opinion!
The second book ‘How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen’ is another fantastic read about the art (and it is an art) of communicating well with your children. It looks at strategies and gives parenting advice on how to talk to your child to encourage excellent communication, build loving, trusting and respectful relationships. Another must read!
The second two books are for your little one. ‘The Lion Inside’ is a best seller and perfect for smaller children! Instilling a sense of strength and resilience in the children who read it (are read to) and following a lovely character as they find their inner voice and go on a lovely adventure.
‘Gilly Giraffe‘ – although on the more expensive side, is an amazing book for older children! Filled with self-esteem building activities and a wonderfully cute character to follow on their journey. This book encourages your child to take an active role and participate in the activities outlined. The child is encouraged to explore their own self-worth and it includes affirmations and loads of positivity. Definitely worth it!
How To Go About Raising Resilient Children
1. Encourage your child to try hard and accept failure as a learning moment
Failure is bound to happen at some point in your little one’s life; whether it be falling off a bike, failing a test or not placing in a competition. Failure is good. I know – that sounds counterintuitive! I genuinely believe it.
Growing up understanding that things will go wrong, things are not always in our control and that sometimes hard work may not always end with the result we want the most, will teach your child a very important lesson.
Resilient children learn very quickly not to give up – that failure is a part of learning and only makes them better in the long run.
2. Encourage your child to problem solve
Although very tempting, it is not always the best idea to run to your child’s rescue when they are struggling with something. Raising resilient children means giving them the independence to make mistakes and figure out solutions for themselves.
By just pausing for a moment, encouraging and actively watching your child, you will see that light bulb moment where they figure something out for themselves and their sense of pride and self worth grows.
Problem solving skills are developed from birth through to adolescence and beyond; from a baby trying to latch on to their mother’s breast, a child figuring out how to stack blocks or learning to ride a bike. The important thing here is to be a present and supportive role model for your child so that they can learn to figure out solutions on their own.
3. Teach emotional intelligence
Children are like little sponges and pick up on everything – including emotional intelligence! Teach your child from as young as possible about emotions and their impact on ourselves and others. You’ll be surprised how much this helps them make sense of the world around them and become empathetic, kind and emotionally resilient children. Through the ability to label emotions, discover what they mean and how they make us feel and act, our children become more self aware, better communicators and more resilient to negative emotions and events they may come across.
This week, my little girl (upon hearing her 3 year old cousin crying) came up to me and said “Mummy, cousin crying. He is sad. He needs cuddle”. She then ran towards him and tried desperately to comfort him in his time of need.
Our 18 month old daughter was able to not only label her cousin’s emotion, but was able to identify what he might like to console him and then attempted to act upon it. #proudmama!
4. Praise their effort – not the result
We often, out of habit, praise the result of something a child has accomplished. “Yay! Well done, you came first place”… “Great job! You made a really delicious cupcake”… “Brilliant result there! You got an A* on that Science test!” to name a few examples. I was guilty of this too.
Rather than focusing on the result, try to use language to praise the effort that went in to achieving their result. So instead, “Well done on trying so hard in that race! I loved how much effort you put in and watching you smile at the end of the race. You did a brilliant job”… “Well done on your baking! You were so good at stirring all the ingredient together”… “I am so proud of all the revision and effort you put in to revising for that Science test – you really persevered and I know it wasn’t easy.”
By slightly changing our language and our focus when praising our children, we are showing them that what makes us happy isn’t necessarily a positive result, but the process of trying to get there.
5. Communicate often and openly
Have you ever heard “communication is key?” This is especially important for our little ones. Our children aren’t too different from us after all. Feeling heard, important and part of a secure family unit is a massive ingredient to raising resilient children.
Talk and listen as much as possible – this could be about how their day is going; how your day is going; shared experiences; independent experiences and anything that interests your little ones. It’s great to find common ground and include resilience building activities for them.
6. Teach empathy and gratitude
Teaching children to develop their empathy is so important! By promoting this your child will understand their own emotions and give them a strong sense of security.
It will also allow them to build brilliant, tolerant and respectful relationships with those around them and ultimately make them happier little people.
7. Encourage playtime
Characteristics of a resilient child include those who are able to play independently as well as take an active role in group play. Give your little one plenty of opportunities for a variety of play. Whether this be structured play, group play or independent play – your little one needs time to explore and learn resilience through play and the interactions this will encourage.
As well as lots of playtime, encourage your child to take the time to actively engage in resilience building activities daily.
8. Be a present and supportive example for your child
Being physically and emotionally present for your child is probably one of the most important things to consider when raising resilient children. Giving one-to-one time to sit and talk, play, sing, dance, or whatever other bonding activity you can think of.
It is so tempting to sit next to your child whilst they play and scroll through your phone (just quickly checking that work email or the latest insta update) – but what is your child seeing here? We are all guilty of doing this once in a while – and that is fine! But do try to make some time to sit and be completely present with your child.
9. Encourage positive affirmations
I remember watching this clip from ‘The Help’ a while back and thinking “This is brilliant!” Alex and I tuck our little girl in to bed every night saying our own version of this. The aim? To end the day with positive words of affirmation, love and self-acceptance. All our children deserve to feel loved, cherished and know their own worth. Such a beautiful clip!
So, what's next?
Raising resilient children is not easy. Let’s face it… being a parent isn’t easy full stop! But by making small adjustments to our language, relationships and types of activities, we can definitely help our children on their way.
For similar content check out our popular posts on ‘Navigating The Challenges of Growing Up Mixed’, ‘10 Best Tips For Communicating With Your Child‘, ‘Knowing What’s Best For Your Little One‘ and other top reads in the ‘Parenting‘ section of our site.
Thanks for the read and do comment below with any feedback or questions!