Building resilience in young children-Dr. Vinita Verma

The world is a beautiful place yet so frightening. And if you’re a parent, you already know what I mean. Becoming a parent makes us know fears we never knew existed. As a baby grows into a child ready to step into the real world, the realization dawns that he/she is not the center of universe which they once believed. Life’s not easy and fair. There are challenges to be dealt with at every stage. And that’s where resilience comes into play.

I still remember my daughter’s first day at school. She was happy and excited. But once we reached to drop her at school, her face fell seeing other children cry. And I noticed that excitement on her face was replaced by apprehension. Her eyes brimmed with tears. Seeing my child like that I felt a knot in my throat too. But deep inside I knew this was the beginning of her journey outside her cocoon. Removing the hurdles from her path was not my job. Change and growth are inevitable and essential. The best I could do as a mother was to equip her with the skills that would help her cope.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and difficult situations. According to developmental psychologists, while some children develop resilience naturally, others may need assistance for the same.

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Photo Source:Jon Grainger

Here I’ve summed up few strategies through which resilience can be built over time in children with a consistent effort:

Attachment and relationships

Contrary to the popular belief that resilience is built with rugged independence; love, support and compassionate nurturing are the building blocks of resilience. Human connection strengthens resilience by providing support and emotional security during hardships. Your presence and kind support will soothe the discomfort of challenges and will help your child sail through the difficult times.

Empathetic Approach

Empathy is the cornerstone of all relationships and human behaviour. An empathetic parenting approach will help the child feel understood and loved, which will in turn boost their self esteem and confidence. Teaching kids to empathize with others and encouraging them to help others will alleviate the feeling of helplessness in them. At the same time, it will make them more compassionate, which is a win-win situation.

Building Competence

Children believe what we think and speak of them. Our opinion of them hugely impacts and shapes them. They become what we perceive them to be.

Focus on their strengths and express your belief in their capabilities to handle a situation by allowing them to make choices and decisions wherever possible. Teach them the importance of self care by being a role model.

Enhance problem solving skills

Don’t always rush to their rescue rather give them a chance to build resistance against hurt and upsetting situations. Instead of giving them a piece of your mind, help them use theirs by asking questions. Let them analyse the situation and suggest what might work, what has worked earlier in similar circumstance or how according to them the problem can be dealt with.

Rejuvenation is important

Help them relax and rejuvenate. Like they say a well rested brain can achieve great things. It would build their problem solving skills and thus nurture resilience.

Nurture Optimism and self esteem

Talk to your children about the hardships they’ve faced in the past and appreciate them for handling it well. Make them see that how facing a problem has strengthened them for overcoming challenges in future. Teach them that mistakes and setbacks are a part of life and that they can be dealt with courage and that a dash of humour makes life cushier and challenges easier to deal with. And more importantly, let them know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Don’t tell, show them how to do it

Children are great imitators, so why not give them something good to imitate. Those little eyes are always watching you and learning as well. Don’t mask your disappointments and failures from your children rather show them how you deal with the setbacks.

And above everything else, let your children know that they are loved, always and unconditionally. That’s something they’ll carry forever in their hearts and that would make the foundation of their emotional and social well being.

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