Resilience is the ability to bounce back from the bumps and bruises of life. It impacts how children suffer illness and supports their pursuit of excellence in school, sports, arts and just about everything they do. Resilienceis an important part of health as it helps children steer through all types of challenges and thrive.
Here are some of the building blocks to resilience.
Time: There is a lot going on in a growing child's life. Children need unplugged “down” time to process what they experience and learn. Time is our most precious possession, and parents must make conscious decisions about how their family spends it.
Connection: Children need to be with those who love them. Sometimes they just need to be in the same space, but far more potent is the attention of a caring parent or family member. The increasing pull of technology on us all makes giving this attention harder.
Community: Children profit from being a part of something bigger than themselves and their family. Communities of faith, ethnic or national organizations, neighborhoods, civic organizations, etc. all offer customs and values that teach and ground children.
Role Models: Children are keen observers of those around them. They study the way parentsand other adults respond to frustration and setbacks. Children need roles models who inspire an active, healthful lifestyle and good-humored resilience.
Limits: Beside love, discipline is the greatest gift parents can give their child – even if it brings brief unhappiness. Consistent, authoritative and responsive limits define a safe space in which children can explore their own power. Limits and how they are communicated ought change and grow as your child does.
Choices: . . . but not too many. Choices give children a taste of control, but too many can overwhelm them. Choices also require children to make decisions. It is good to practice on small decisions before life presents big ones.
Failure: Failure and frustration are something of a playground for resilience; these are where resilience is practiced and strengthened. Children must be able to push themselves beyond what is comfortable, and again, practice on small failures in order to prepare for bigger ones.
Freedom: Children need the space to work out emotions, resolve conflicts, figure out solutions and sometimes, just have a good cry. While parents want to help with these challenges, the stakes are always higher for a child when a parent is involved.
Responsibility: No one likes to be told what to do, but everyone wants to help. Children want to feel that they have something to contribute and are valued for it. A parent's request for help and her or his praise for that help both can make a child's day.
Confidence: Nothing succeeds like success. Children's self-esteem and confidence are built on achieving age-appropriate expectations and praise from those whom they value. Praise for good effort, persistence and bravery - rather than an actual accomplishment - helps build resilience.
Love: Most of all, children need to know they are loved. They cannot hear or feel this enough. Resilient children know that nothing can threaten a parent's love. Naughtiness, tantrums, poor decisions, accidents, failures . . . all these are but drops of water to the ocean of a parent’s love.
What each of these looks like in your family is, of course, up to you. We, at Pediatric Associates of Wellesley, are honored to partner with you as you do the hard and important work of parenting. Your doctor would welcome an appointment with you to discuss these or other steps to help in your jouney.
We hope this is helpful and welcome a conversation with you about any of this.