5 Ways To Grow Resilient Children

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Guest Blog Written By Nina Bambrey

To live in the world children need to live with a sense of wonder and gratitude and to develop the ability to face and overcome challenges. Life is inevitably unpredictable and it is important that we offer our children a map so that they can navigate the storms. There is some evidence that facing and overcoming difficulty can improve our quality of life. We thrive at the edge of our comfort zone.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to return to normal functioning quickly after experiencing a mental or physical setback. Here are some skills you can teach your children to help them build courage and become resilient:

There’s an old story of a young man who falls off his horse and breaks his leg. His neighbour comes round to offer his condolences, the young man responds by saying, “It might be bad or it might be good”. The next day government officials come to the village to conscript all of the able bodied young men to fight in a war. Because of his broken leg the young man gets to stay at home rather than risk his life in battle. What initially appeared as misfortune actually turned out to be rather lucky. 

When something difficult or regrettable happens, you can support your child to look for the lessons or the gifts in the situation. A great habit to have throughout life is the practice of finding goodness or hope even when things don’t go our way. If you look for the opportunities an unpleasant situation could bring, you might find you become a luckier person.

2. Become Anti-fragile

Becoming anti-fragile means developing the capacity to withstand more than you would in normal circumstances and to grow from those experiences. It was a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

When I was training as an aerial acrobat my teacher would only let me perform when I had proved to her that I could run my routine three times in a row. Why was this when in a performance I would only have to do it once? My teacher explained to me, it was so that if anything went wrong, I would have the strength to get myself out of danger. It is something I still practise to this day.

I recommend that you find experiences for your child which help them to build endurance. Good examples are climbing a mountain, wild camping with minimal creature comforts and doing sport. This can help them to build trust in their ability to withstand situations which take them out of their comfort zone. When they are struggling in life, you can remind them of the time they were on top of a mountain in the rain (or whatever it was that challenged them) to help them recognise and call upon their strength.

3. Build Strong Relationships

Relationships where we feel safe, seen and known are the foundation of resilience. Knowing that we have people who love and care about us helps us thrive and survive in tough times. Humans are relatively fragile, particularly during our early childhood, those who had the capacity to build and maintain relationships were more likely to survive. We have therefore evolved to look to others for a sense of security and safety. 

The larger our support network is, the easier we will find it to withstand a crisis. Learning how to develop interdependence is a strength not a weakness. Help your child learn how to maintain and cultivate friendships as an important part of becoming resilient. Prioritise quality over quantity.

4. Help Them To Focus On The Things They Can Change

When life is challenging stuck or hopeless feelings can emerge when we give a lot of focus to things which we don’t have the power to change. 

There might be a lot of things your child doesn’t have control over, for example, where they live or whether they go to school. Helping them to acknowledge what they can’t change and focus on what they can change or influence is a wonderful way to empower them.

This is a helpful maxim:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”,  Reinhold Niebuhr.

Hearing stories where people overcome problems – especially ones your child can relate to – teaches them that this is possible. This can be via books or films. Lots of our most loved films show characters overcoming adversity, for example, Frozen, Encanto or Lord of the Rings. Reflecting on this message with your child can help them to understand and internalise it. You could also share your own stories of overcoming difficulty, for example, perhaps you lacked confidence at school but found a hobby you were really good at and it gave you a new feeling of joy and self worth. 

I can remember feeling nervous about how much my life was going to change when I became a mum. I have always been an active and creative person and was worried I might have to let go of the things I loved to do. I met up with an artist I admired. She told me how she used to bring her baby into her art studio and paint while the baby was sleeping. This helped me realise I didn’t have to give up the things I love, I could bring my baby along with me – and I did!

I have created a downloadable workbook for you and your child to complete together to help you develop your capacity for resilience. Click here to order your copy for just £5.

I offer bespoke support to parents whatever they are going through, you can find out more on my website www.journeyintoparenting.com, or click here to book a free consultation with me.


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