Helping Your Child Build Resilience

Helping Your Child Build Resilience

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We all experience bad days and tough times. Resilience refers to our ability to cope with, adapt to, and overcome these tough days and other challenges. Strategies that build positive coping skills like emotional regulation, communication, goal setting, and problem solving can help your child and your family handle life’s challenges and build resilience.

Here are some tips to help your child build resilience:

  • Create a support system for them. It is comforting for children to remember that they have people who care about them! Remind your child that when things get tough, they can reach out to you, another family member, a friend, a coach, or a teacher whom they trust. These adults are often happy to listen and help solve challenges that may come up.
  • Learn to manage stress as a family. Deep breathing or mindfulness exercises can help you and your child keep your cool. Remember to take time to step back from a situation and cool down when you need it.
  • Discuss your feelings. Communicating about feelings can help kids and adults manage them better and express what they need. Using “I” statements (for example, “I feel…” or “I need…”) is a good way to share emotions with others. For younger children, help them learn to name and describe their emotions using words or pictures.
  • Model positive coping. Talking to your child about times that you have felt anxious and how you dealt with those feelings can help them learn from your example. (For example, “Today I was worried because I forgot to give you your jacket to take to school. But then I remembered to ask myself, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’”).
  • Take care of yourself. Finding time to do activities you enjoy is key to developing a positive relationship with your child. Try to set aside a few moments each day to take a walk, read a book, or do something else that allows you to clear your head.
  • Praise your child’s effort. Positive encouragement can make a big difference. Let your child know that you see how hard they are trying, especially if they seem to be struggling.

Building resilience is important for the entire family. Increased resilience and use of coping strategies encourage overall family closeness. Some signs of resilience to look for in your children are:

  • Increased communication with parents, friends, teachers, and counselors about anxious feelings
  • Higher tolerance for situations that usually bring about anxious responses
  • Improvement in school functioning or other areas because of stronger coping skills
  • Increased willingness to set and complete goals related to control of anxiety
  • Overall improvement in mood

Support your child’s efforts to manage stress and overcome challenges by using praise and positive encouragement.

Childhood anxiety comes in many forms and is not always a sign of an anxiety disorder. It is important for parents to talk with their children about their anxiety and monitor how their children engage with themselves and others.