“Kids are resilient, they can adapt to this”; “don’t worry, our children are resilient”- what does that even mean?
Resiliency is the ability of a person to adjust to, or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc. according to dictionary.com.
In children, resiliency should look more like growth and psychological strength than adaptability to the situation. There are so many ways to provide a safe, secure environment for growth so that children become resilient adults.
- Create a safe, calm, secure environment: Use the connection you already have with your child, take a break from the media, use measured breathing, make a place where they feel safe communicating their feelings to you without judgement
- Structure, structure, structure!: All humans do better and feel more secure when they know what is going on- children especially. Difficult times due to issues outside of our control breeds insecurity. Explain changes in schedules, allow the child space to express feelings regarding changes. If you are able, allow for choices- this can give your child a sense of control.
- Catch them being good: Notice the calm moments, notice good choices, notice acceptance of changes- all this stuff is uncomfortable and difficult- complimenting your child on growth behavior will encourage more growth!
That’s great- but I’m not feeling very resilient myself as a parent- how do I do this for my child?
- Communicate your feelings- the good and the ugly, use “I” statements (when____happens, I feel _____). When you use specific feeling words, your child learns appropriate expression
- Model and teach empathy- caring for other people, pets, plants, respecting other cultures and beliefs. When you show caring, your child learns empathy for their world
- Show vulnerability with failure- this one is hard- model how to handle rejection- it is ok to be angry, it is ok to need to apologize, it is ok to need to improve or change. Failure or rejection is just an event, it is not a flaw or a character trait. When you show vulnerability, your child learns how to process
- Create boundaries and limits- consistent expectations across environments if possible. Consequences for behaviors also need to be consistent also. When you set limits, your child learns that they are safe
I love the idea of resiliency; but it is learned, we are not born with it. Providing our children with environments and opportunities for growth and expression will produce healthy, resilient adults.
Karen Williams, M.S., LPC- Associate
under the supervision of Melinda Porter, M.A. LPC-S