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Guest Post: How to Empower Your Child?
In life, a lot of things will happen that aren’t always favorable. As parents, we want our kids to be able to bounce back even after times of difficulty. That’s what resiliency is – getting back up after falling or finding the courage to try again.
Resilience isn’t a trait that only certain people have. Although it may come more natural for some, the good news is you can develop this quality. It is a mix of behaviors, thought processes, and actions. As parents, we want to nurture this trait in our kids. Resilient kids are problem solvers, independent, optimistic and can build social connections.
Tips for Building Resilient Children
1. Avoid solving all problems for them. In fact, encourage them to come up with solutions.
When we come in and rescue them every time they’re in trouble or having a hard time, they’re going to grow dependent. Somewhere down the road, they’re going to have a hard time making decisions and facing things on their own because of this dependency.
Fostering independence is one way of letting them find solutions. For instance, when my toddler was learning to put on a shirt, he was frustrated at first. Finding the sleeves for his arms to go through wasn’t always easy, but he eventually found his way in them. Rather than just letting him put his hands up every time he needed to change, I let encouraged him to do it himself.
2. Don’t provide all the answers.
Even if you know the answers, withholding them might not be such a bad idea. Giving them answers right away is robbing them of the opportunity to think and to solve. Instead, you can prompt questions to help him or her answer his questions. My toddler once had a hard time putting a simple puzzle together. He asked me, “Where does this belong?” I could have pointed it to him, but what will that do for him? Not much. So instead I said, “Why don’t you trying turning the pieces around and try them in different slots.” He did so, and he figured it out.
3. Let your child feel your love and support.
It will take some time for your kid to figure things out, so you have to be patient. Let them know that you are there for them to alleviate their fear and anxiety. A strong support system encourages children to take risks, knowing that even if they fail, you are there for them. Your love and support will also motivate them to get back up.
Hug them, cheer for them and acknowledge when they do something well. Resiliency is nurtured by healthy loving and caring relationships.
4. Let your child face their emotions.
Not everything in life is going to be a walk in the park. Life will throw different challenges that will certainly test your kid. If you want to raise a resilient child, they have to become aware of their emotions.
It’s okay to be upset when a peer says something mean or angry when someone broke their toy. All emotions are real but what they do afterward is what’s important. Help them to think through what they should do next. As parents, you should empathize before you help him or her figure out what to do next. Stressful situations shouldn’t end things. They should rather, make you stronger.
Kids may use emotions to their advantage. For example, a child will cry or throw a tantrum if he doesn’t get a toy. You have to be firm and definite about what behavior is acceptable. You can say, “I know you’re sad that you’re not getting this toy, but crying and screaming is not going to get me change my mind.”
5. Include your kids in planning.
A child gains a sense of belonging when you let him or her in on some planning and decisions. That way, you are giving importance to his or her opinions. You’re telling him or her that you believe in them and that they matter.
Having this sense of value and potential encourages them to push forward even when times are hard. What’s more is that it also builds up your relationship with them.
6. Teach from mistakes.
The world doesn’t end because of a mistake or a failure. It’s hard for us parents to watch them make mistakes but sometimes experience is a better teacher. They need to learn the consequences of their action, if not, their lack of action.
Of course, we want to keep our kids safe. We set rules and limits to achieve this. However, being overprotective and eliminating all risks is not preparing them for the bigger picture. Having a healthy sense of danger teaches them to be cautious. Provide a healthy set of boundaries that are age appropriate. Adjust them when you need to as they progress.
7. Build a sense of self
Value your kids for who they are and they will learn to value themselves. They need to know that each person is different. To build your child’s sense of self, acknowledge his or her strengths. Let them embrace their uniqueness by recognizing their skills and talents. Don’t compare them with other kids, rather focus on his or her capabilities.
A sense of identity plays a huge role in resiliency. Kids who are confident in who they are, who know their strengths and weaknesses are more positive in facing conflicts. They are realistic and optimistic.
In contrast, kids with low self-worth are anxious and are often frustrated when they find themselves in stressful situations. They have a hard time finding solutions because they already think that they can’t do it.
8. Model to them what resiliency is.
Your behavior as a parent has an enormous impact on your child’s behavior. They learn from watching you. Model to them what resiliency is. Own up to your mistakes and teach them that you too can find solutions to challenges thrown at you.
Sometimes we try to put a brave face on in front of our kids. But transparency gives them a more real sense of how nothing is perfect. When you are consistent in what you teach them, it has a more lasting impression.
Children are going to be on a journey of ups and downs. However, resiliency helps them navigate themselves through this journey where triumphs, failures, trials, and tribulations are inevitable. These tips can strengthen resilience in a child but keep in mind that every person is unique. Nurture resiliency in childhood and it will be carried on to adulthood.