We all can develop resilience, and we can help our children develop it as well. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned over time. Following are tips to building resilience.
1. Make connections
Teach your child how to make friends, including the skill of empathy, or feeling another's pain. Encourage your child to be a friend in order to get friends. Build a strong family network to support your child through his or her inevitable disappointments and hurts. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. Some find comfort in connecting with a higher power, whether through organized religion or privately and you may wish to introduce your child to your own traditions of worship.
2. Help your child by having him or her help others
Children who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work, or ask for assistance yourself with some task that he or she can master.
3. Maintain a daily routine
Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who crave structure in their lives. Encourage your child to develop his or her own routines.
4. Take a break
While it is important to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Teach your child how to focus on something besides what's worrying them. Be aware of what your child is exposed to that can be troubling, whether it be news, the Internet or overheard conversations, and make sure your child takes a break from those things if they trouble them.
5. Teach your child self-care
Make yourself a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise and rest. Make sure your child has time to have fun, and make sure that your child hasn't scheduled every moment of his or her life with no "down time" to relax. Caring for oneself and even having fun will help your child stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.
6. Move toward your goals
Teach your child to set reasonable goals and then to move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal - even if it's a tiny step - and receiving praise for doing so will focus your child on what he or she has accomplished rather than on what hasn't been accomplished, and can help build the resilience to move forward in the face of challenges.
7. Nurture a positive self-view
Help your child remember ways that he or she has successfully handled hardships in the past and then help them understand that these past challenges help them build the strength to handle future challenges. Help your child learn to trust themselves to solve problems and make appropriate decisions.
8. Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook
Even when your child is facing very painful events, help them look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Although your child may be too young to consider a long-term look on their own, help him or her see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be good. An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times.
9. Look for opportunities for self-discovery
Tough times are often the times when children learn the most about themselves. Help your child take a look at how whatever they are facing can teach them "what they are made of."
10. Accept that change is part of living
Change often can be scary for children and teens. Help your child see that change is part of life and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable. In school, point out how students have changed as they moved up in grade levels and discuss how that change has had an impact on the students.