Each child possesses the capability of doing extraordinary things. Nothing is off-limits when they learn to believe in themselves, value their skills, and acknowledge they can overcome any challenge. While parents and adults can’t control the difficulties their children face, they can give them a toolkit to build their emotional resilience and help them bounce back quicker and stronger than before. If you’re worried about your little ones and their future, you’re not alone. This article will teach you how to nurture emotional resilience in kids to help them become braver, more adaptable, and ready to take on the world with unbreakable confidence.
What is ‘Emotional Resilience’?
If your child experiences bullying, loses a friend or struggles at school, their level of emotional resilience will determine how quickly they bounce back. It helps them deal with the here and now rather than stressing about situations they can’t control. When they learn to identify, express and manage their emotions, they become less reactive and more responsive.
Why Is Emotional Resilience Important?
The last two years with COVID-19 have not only affected adults but children as well. The changes to their school routine, isolation, and time away from opportunities to strengthen relationships impacted their ability to cope. But building emotional resilience can provide them with a better defense against stressors out of their control. Developing this important skill will teach how to;
- Build their self-awareness
- Understand and process their emotions
- Overcome stress
- Form positive relationships
- Develop independence
How to Build Emotional Resilience in Kids at Home
1. Model resilience
One of the best ways to teach emotional resilience is to show your children how to respond to stress. While we all face stressful situations, model how to overcome any challenge they face. For example, teach them breathing exercises to decrease their stress response and teach them what they’re experiencing is temporary and will pass.
2. Mindfully listen
It may be tempting to give advice to your children or immediately try to fix their problems, but when they come to you, listen and ask questions. Not only will this tip create an open flow of communication, but it will increase their independence to problem solve.
3. Growth vs. Fixed mindset
Children begin fearing failure at a young age. To disrupt this fear, teach them how to embrace mistakes. In fact, use a past challenge on your end and the steps or coping mechanisms you used to heal. Failure can lead to growth, accomplished goals, and results, but kids need to learn this.
4. Reframe their feelings
If you notice your child focusing on the negative while ignoring the positive, teach them how to reframe their thoughts. Show them that it is possible to switch their mindset to believe in the positive side of situations. To do this, acknowledge their feelings, and ask questions to help them build optimism.
5. Notice their self-talk
How does your child talk about themselves? If they’re worried about an upcoming challenge, do they avoid it and think they don’t have the skills to succeed? When you notice negative self-talk, investigate why they feel that way and help them see growth as a process rather than an immediate result. Teach them their skills will improve with time, and praise how strong, intelligent, and capable they are.
6. Be present
Children learn how to build healthy relationships within their immediate environment; parents, teachers, and peers. When they have strong relationships within this circle, they learn positive coping skills to overcome challenges. So, to foster this, be more present with your children. If they have your emotional support, they are more likely to come forward in difficult times.
How to Build Emotional Resilience in Kids at School
1. Know your emotions
When a child becomes overwhelmed with their stress and emotions, instead of reacting angrily, teach them how to label their feelings. For example, if a student is angry by an assignment, tell them it’s okay to feel upset, and that bad feelings pass with time. Learning to label their emotions will help them understand and identify what they’re experiencing.
2. Praise often
Praise is one of the easiest and most effective ways to encourage, motivate, and inspire your students. Here are two ways you can build emotional resilience in kids within a learning environment;
- Effort-based praise. Statements like “I’m so impressed by how you memorized your poem without having it in front of you!”. This type of praise acknowledges things they can control.
- Behavior-specific praise. This type of praise focuses on what students do correctly while recognizing their efforts. For example, “Great job for getting in line when I asked. You also helped all of your classmates too!”.
3. Create space to ask for help
When you see a child struggling with an assignment or problem, create a safe space for them to ask for help and encourage them when they do. A part of resilience is knowing that seeking support is a sign of strength. Offer your assistance, ask what they need to overcome the challenge, and help them brainstorm different pathways.
4. Build their confidence
Thankfully, learning that skills and capabilities improve with time is a skill teachers can cultivate. For example, try motivating them along from “I can’t do this” to “I think I can try” and “I’m not good at this” to “I’ll try a different way”. And while facing setbacks can affect their self-esteem, teaching them how to view them from different perspectives builds emotional resilience.
5. Focus on lessons
If a student is experiencing a visible setback, teach them how to find lessons through the pain. For example, ask them questions to determine what they think was difficult and how they viewed their coping skills. Then, highlight the positives and encourage them to use those same skills for future challenges. Finding lessons and reinforcing what they did right will help them build self-confidence and emotional resilience.
6. Acknowledge what they’re experiencing
Experiencing a challenge or hardship isn’t fun, even for a child. While your go-to might be advising them to toughen up or “It wasn’t so bad”, try to acknowledge how they feel. If they feel sad, provide empathy and encourage them to discuss their emotions. This tip will not only teach you how to build emotional resilience in kids, but it will help increase their self-awareness.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to avoid stress. But it is possible to teach children to respond to stress in healthy ways, value their self-worth, and work through challenges. And as children navigate life, you can use these tips interchangeably to foster emotional resilience and pave the way to grow with obstacles within the classroom and at home.
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