Resilient Families – 3 Things you can do today to help your child become more resilient

When my child was experiencing some problems with another student at school recently, my first instinct was to swoop in and rescue him. But, thankfully, I resisted the urge. As much as I wanted to fix everything for him, I knew that in order for my son to become resilient, what he needed was for me to support him through the challenge, not help him dodge it. 

But what is resilience, and more to the point, why do our children need to build it? Simply put, resilience means that a person can deal with challenges and cope when something goes wrong, oftentimes finding some positive learning experience in it all. As parents, we have the opportunity to help our children grow up to be strong, confident, resilient young people, and we can begin in their earliest years.

Here are 3 things you can start doing today to help your child become more resilient – no matter what age they are:



1. Spend time nurturing your relationship with them

One of the best predictors of a child being resilient is whether or not they have a strong relationship with their caregiver. This can be built up in surprisingly simple ways (but it does involve putting our phones down). When I asked children in my class to list “10 things I love about you” for Mother’s Day one year, it was fascinating to see what they included. They loved simple things like curling up together to watch a movie, baking cookies, making jigsaws or simply spending one to one time with their parents. 



2. Expressing emotions in a healthy way

When we teach our children to name their emotions, they start to tune in to how they are feeling. They can then learn to stop identifying with the strong emotions when they arise. Instead of saying “I am angry,” they learn to say “I feel angry.” This subtle shift in language helps them recognise that they are not their feelings. This means that they begin to see that a feeling or emotion is something that comes, stays with us a while, then leaves. They learn to observe the emotion, while knowing it will pass. This helps them to get through it. 



3. Modelling Resilience in our own lives

When you are having a tough day – or a tough week – be sure to tell your child, or let them overhear you telling someone else. You don’t need to tell them everything that happened in your meeting with the Accounts team. But you can say “I had a tough day today. My boss wasn’t happy with some work I did yesterday, and he gave out to me in front of everyone.” When they hear us talking about a difficulty we are facing, then they are learning from us that everyone experiences adversity. They can relate to us more, as they experience these kinds of situations at school the whole time. When your child learns that you go through the same things as them, it builds trust in your relationship. 

All these things will help your child build resilience and inner strength, giving them tools they will be able to use throughout their entire lives. And in the process, you’ll strengthen the connection and trust between yourself and your child.



This article first appeared in Junior Magazine on the 23rd July 2023


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