Resilience: It's What Gets Us Through
As a counselor and a mom to two tiny humans, my goal is to equip my children with the tools they need to handle adversity and keep moving forward, no matter what life throws at them. In my quest to raise happy, well-adjusted children, I found the concept of resilience encompassed everything I want for my children.
Resilience is a core trait that helps maintain good mental health despite failure, rejection, disappointment and trauma. Resilience gives people the ability to cope with adversity and adapt to change throughout their lives. Being resilient may not sound difficult, but it is not innate. Resilience is learned and cultivated throughout life. Some people are more inclined to resilience than others but it’s a skill nonetheless and it must be honed and practiced. The best time to learn resilience is during childhood. As parents, we can instill and encourage resilience in our children, so they develop healthy, adaptive coping skills early in life.
There are several factors that promote resilience:
The presence of at least one caring, supportive adult-a parent, grandparent or teacher.
Healthy expression of emotion-it’s alright to cry or be angry if it doesn’t interfere with daily functioning.
Feeling a sense of mastery-believing they can control (or have a say in) some aspects over their life.
Ability to self-regulate-being able to manage strong emotion without losing control in a situation that could have serious negative consequences.
Flexible thinking-the ability to adjust thinking based on a change of circumstance.
A sense of belonging- to the larger community, a faith community or cultural community.
A global sense of optimism-being able to stay positive even when things aren’t going well.
It is important that parents understand their role in developing resilience in children. First, lead by example. We can’t teach what we haven’t learned. Work on your own emotional regulation. Let your children witness you adapt to change, think flexibly, maintain optimism, lean on your support system during tough times and express feelings in a healthy manner. Second, speak openly about life’s disappointments, validate their feelings and help them re-frame negative thinking. Help children formulate more adaptive thoughts like “I’ve been through hard times before and I will get through this too” or “I didn’t make the team this year, but I’m better than last year and I’ll keep trying”.
To learn more about resilience, read an article, listen to a Ted talk or subscribe to a podcast. Developing and maintaining resilience throughout life is a journey, not a destination. It’s never too late to develop resilience yourself and kids as young as 3 can learn basic concepts of resilience.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. You can schedule an appointment with me to learn more about tools and habits to make you more resilient. Most importantly, never give up.