Resiliency is an important part of parenthood: if mom and dad weren’t resilient, they would throw in the carpool keys and go to the bar. But resiliency isn’t just for grownups: kids need it too. In fact, resilient children turn into successful adults (i.e., adults who can afford to buy their parents a luxury car).
So, as a mom or dad, how do you teach your children to confront trials and tribulations, the big, the small, and everything in between? Start with these tips:
Offer encouragement, but know there’s a limit
Yes, you’re your child’s biggest cheerleader – “Rah, Rah, Robby!” That doesn’t mean you can’t go overboard. Parents who give their kids too much praise might leave them ill-prepared to handle criticism. Rather than telling your child everything they do is wonderful and fabulous, praise their effort instead. That helps them equate achievement with hard work.
Make goals more attainable
Kids who are given a game plan are better able to handle challenging tasks. So, if your kiddo is about to tackle something difficult, break it up into not-so-scary parts. This decreases the odds of them growing frustrated and throwing in the towel – they’ll see results, in the form of baby steps, upping the odds that they’ll stick to a task.
Change up the definition of the “F” word
Many kids are afraid of disappointing their parents (well, at least until they’re teenagers). This leaves them terrified of the “F” word: failure. But all successful people fail (perhaps even more than they succeed). Teaching kids that failure is inevitable is vital to raising resilient children. It helps their ability to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try, try again.
Many children have the tendency to jump to conclusions when things don’t go their way. Kids, after all, are nothing if not melodramatic. Getting a D on a history paper or failing a spelling test may leave a child to conclude that they’re “not smart enough” when, in reality, they just didn’t do well on that particular assignment. Changing a child’s perspective to remind them that new things can be hard (whether it’s learning or sports or playing the piano) gives them a subtle reminder to persevere. It tells them “keep going, it’ll get easier and you will get better.” It’s also helpful to remind them of a skill they once found difficult but now find easy (like riding a bike).
Get passionate about passion
Every child is passionate about something, even if that “something” is something you wish they didn’t love (like video games or drawing on the wall). Channel that passion in a way that is productive. Does your child spend hours playing Minecraft? Consider signing them up for a coding class where they can learn how video games are actually made. When children (and adults) are passionate about things, they’re much more likely to stick with them even when challenges that feel insurmountable arise. This strengthens their resiliency muscles and, in turn, shows them how to stick with things even when they aren’t so passionate.
Take a risk (but don’t go crazy)
Most parents don’t want their children to be risk takers – “No Sally, let’s not ride an alligator today.” But some risk is healthy. Risk fosters confidence and a sense of accomplishment. It also teaches children not to shy away from things just because they’re unfamiliar with them.
Show them the way
As parents know, kids learn through observation. That means you’re their role model of perseverance. Rather than shielding your kids from your failures, acknowledge them. And then demonstrate the hard work you put forth to help you succeed the next time around.
Perseverance is a necessary quality of success. From the classroom to the boardroom, the ability to keep going leads to achievement. A taste for this resiliency can be formed in childhood. The above tips offer excellent ways to help kids know the importance of digging in their heels.