Guest Post By Cynthya Littell (Confident Parent Coaching)
Your children are capable of more than you think. They are born with the capability of working through challenges and stress. This is called resilience, and it is the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. When they are born into a healthy family, they may have to deal with things like navigating school for the first time, or doing a solo in a big performance, maybe being a key player on a sports team. They’ll be confronted with mean kids, or getting sick, perhaps moving to a new neighborhood, encountering bullies and cyberbullies, taking tests, losing friends, maybe divorce, or coping with grief. These are things that happen in life.
Sometimes a child has more difficult things they deal with. Perhaps they may have parents who are rarely at home, maybe they are left in charge of other siblings, or perhaps they have to figure out their own way to feed themselves.
If children are not taught resilience, any one of these situations can cause anxiety; and if they are not taught resilience, anxiety can take root and become a permanent state of being for a child.
No matter the challenge, resilience is not something that kids either have or don’t have; it is a skill that kids develop as they grow. It is either taught, or they learn it on their own. It can be the thing that helps them overcome, or it can be the bad habit that needs to be broken down and rebuilt.
Resilience helps kids navigate these stressful situations.
Despite your best efforts, you cannot protect your kids from obstacles! So, you teach them resilience.
When kids have the skills and the confidence to confront and work through their problems, they learn that they have what it takes to confront difficult issues. The more they bounce back on their own, the more they learn and internalize the message that they are strong and capable!
Example: Your beautiful 3-month-old baby is furious about having to do tummy time. They are screaming after just 15 seconds of being on their tummy. It’s breaking your heart, so you roll them over. You did it from a place of love. You wanted to help, but you just did it for them. What message did you send them? You taught them that rather than learning to do it themselves, you will step in and do it for them. You taught them that rather than working and struggling a little bit, you will come in and rescue them right away. You just taught them that they don’t have what it takes to do it on their own.
You can help your kids build resilience and confront uncertainty by teaching them to solve problems independently. While your gut reaction might be to jump in and help so that your child avoids dealing with discomfort, this actually weakens resilience. Kids need to experience discomfort so that they can learn to work through it and develop their own problem-solving skills. Without this skill set in place, your children will experience anxiety and shut down in the face of adversity.
“Resilient kids are more likely to take healthy risks because they don’t fear falling short of expectations. They are curious, brave, and trusting of their instincts. They know their limits and they push themselves to step outside of their comfort zones. This helps them reach for their long-term goals and it helps them solve problems independently”. (Psy.com)
(Part Two- Faulty Belief Systems that Lead to Anxiety and Skills to Replace Belief Systems coming next week!)