So what do we need to do to help our children become resilient and to survive the tough times: the times when they feel they have no friends; the teachers are nagging; the learning is too challenging; when they didn’t win that prize … or that part in the play … or place in the team … or get good marks in a test?
By its very nature, life isn’t always easy – and as adults we need to stop ‘stepping in’ and depriving our children of the chance to learn an incredibly important life lesson! We must allow children to find life hard sometimes!
Adults must learn to listen – really listen – but without making judgment – now that’s hard to do! Give children the space to talk about what’s bothering them without interrupting or interrogating them. Pass no comment other than to encourage them to keep talking; nod, or say ‘Yes, I hear you, I am listening’. Acknowledge when you see they are upset. Rather than giving a solution, give them some time to work through what has upset them and to gather themselves back together. Sometimes, a good cry and offloading their feelings can be the best medicine and all they need.
Finally, after a period of distraction – eating something, a good night’s sleep – revisit the discussion and ask if there is anything your child can think of that they could do to make the situation better. Your child. Not you. Let them do the deciding. This will empower them. This is how resilience is developed.
By encouraging your child to accept some responsibility for the part they play in their own life, you teach them to be stronger. You teach them to understand they are not perfect and to accept their own mistakes. As they work things out, true growth and a deeper self-confidence is learned. If we keep intervening on their behalf, we strip them of all self-worth, reinforcing the message they need our help. Surely this is not the message we want to give? Surely we want our children to learn to handle difficult situations?