(CMR) Resilience is one of the most important attitudes you can cultivate in your kids, especially at a time when people appear to be giving up easily. Any good parent would want to help their children overcome obstacles and develop an attitude that they are strong and can achieve anything.
“The ability to persist in the face of difficulty may be as essential to success as talent or intelligence,” says psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour in an article published by Parents Magazine.
The point of life isn’t waiting for it to get easier. It’s discovering that even though “grit” sounds hard—like sandpaper scraping against your thin skin—it can lead to so much joyful creativity and competence. It’s learning to pick up and move on, Parents Magazine stated.
Parents Magazine suggests taking the following steps to ensure you raise resilient children.
One of the benefits of resilience is that it helps kids cope with problems even when you’re not physically there to help, like at school. “When our kids can grapple with frustration, they’re more able to learn and easier to teach,” says teacher Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure. However, building resilience doesn’t mean toughing it out alone. “Give your children a connected life—to family, friends, a neighborhood, school, teams, clubs, a pet, nature, the world of ideas,” says psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. “Connection is the greatest tool we’ve got for dealing with adversity.”
Step in, but don't takeover
Your goal is not to shield, solve, or fix, but to offer what experts refer to as scaffolding: making sure that the framework is in place for your child to succeed. For a little kid wanting to make a salad, this might mean providing almost literal scaffolding—a step stool, say, to get her up to counter height—in addition to teaching her how to use the salad spinner and chop a cucumber. It might mean leaving enough time for your 5-year-old to tie her own shoes so you don’t have to interfere or be late to kindergarten. “Do you want help figuring this out?” is a great question to get in the habit of asking, and you can advise kids to look in their figurative toolbox.
Teach realistic assessment
You don’t want your child to see every molehill as a towering obstacle. Teach your child that setbacks don’t need to ruin their experience and that most mistakes don’t have long-term consequences. Nobody’s perfect. Racism is a mountain. Illness and loss are mountains. Bullying is a mountain. But most problems are a clump of dirt in the road, and you can just detour around it or kick it out of your way.
Encourage a growth mindset
According to psychologist Carol Dweck, and her now-famous mindset research, when you teach kids that intelligence is not fixed but is ever-expandable, they show greater motivation in school and get better grades and higher test scores. So give your kids information about how they’re actually neurologically and anatomically designed for success. Explain that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger when you use it. As Lahey puts it, “The harder you work, the smarter you become.”
Invite your kids to imagine out-of-the-box solutions—what experts call divergent thinking—to family troubles, and creative problem-solving will become their MO. For example, if everyone wants to have fajita night and you’re out of tortillas—rather than running to the store, ask your kids to try to come up with three things they could make with what’s on hand. It’s not only active problem-solving that builds resilience—it’s creativity in general.
Look on the Bright Side
Optimism is a key component of resilience, and although some kids may seem naturally sunnier than others, it’s an attitude that can be taught. Explain to your kids—as often as necessary—that it’s not what you do wrong (or what goes wrong) that matters most, it’s what you do next.
Show them how it's done.
Let your kids see you keeping calm and carrying on. Allow them to see you get a good night’s sleep, try again the next day, apologize, go for a run to sweat it off, take a class to improve yourself, make fun of your own weaknesses. Talk to your kids about how you could make amends and be better. Ask them for their advice and to participate in talking through how we fix our screw-ups.