Resilience : Helping Your Kids Overcome Obstacles

Not all good habits are inborn or ingrained in us before birth-some good habits can be learned. This is true of resilience, the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. The importance of learning and practicing these good habits early in life should be stressed; it's much easier to adopt habits before individuals get too set in their ways.

Your school-age child is at a critical age - they're starting to make conscious choices, and these choices are creating their destinies. So why is it important that you help your child cultivate resilience? Let's take a closer look at what resilience means and what benefits it creates.

Resilience is defined as the ability to quickly recover from misfortune, change or illness. Being a resilient individual dramatically changes your life experience and let's you live a longer, healthier, happier life!

A landmark study started in the 1940s at Harvard University has just recently been completed. The study looked to identify what, if anything, would predict health and happiness. Researchers found that the strongest predictor of success was resilience. Resilient coping strategies led to better mental and physical health, stable long-term relationships and general satisfaction with life.

What do we mean by resilient coping strategies?

Basically, resilience boils down to how an individual explains life's setbacks to themselves. For example, your child's drawing was overlooked when the teacher was praising certain students' work in class and your child spent a lot of time and effort on the drawing.

Does your child say to himself that no matter how hard he tries, he can never succeed at art? Or, does your child bounce back from his disappointment and reason that the teacher was busy or did not see his drawing?

In the first case, your child is taking the blame for life's failures-he puts the blame on enduring and unchangeable characteristics.

In the latter case, the child recognizes that there are other explanations for this disappointment-that we don't live in a perfect world and that disappointment doesn't always reflect badly on ourselves. He is attributing the disappointment to something particular in the situation; this protects his sense of self-worth.

Now consider a life where you always put the blame on your own enduring personality traits - 'I just can't seem to succeed no matter how hard I try'. These thinking patterns erode your ability to deal with change and misfortune-something life is constantly throwing at you. Can you see how this would negatively impact an individual's physical wellbeing? Consider now what life is like when you deal well with adversity and change. You spring back from troubles and grow with each obstacle you overcome.

Every parent wants this latter life for their child. Luck has it that you can help your child form these good habits.

Help Cultivate Your Child's Resilience
Teaching resilient coping strategies begins with paying attention to your child's nuanced thoughts. This means you need to have a good, open route of communication with your child. Most families spend less than 10 minutes a day truly communicating about their dreams, hopes and fears. The best time to talk to your kids is at meal times-make time to sit down for breakfast and dinner. If you don't have the time, clear your schedule because this is very important.

If you and your family have just begun to realize the importance of communication, don't expect your kids to share their innermost feelings with you just yet. It takes learn how to open up, much less feel comfortable with it.

Learn how to identify negative thought patterns in your child. How does he describe the events of his day-are setbacks interpreted negatively or do they roll off your child like water off a duck's feathers? If the latter is the case, wonderful! You have less work to do to ensure your child has a healthy and successful life!

If you think your child needs some help in overcoming these negative thought patterns, then help them realize that there are always a number of explanations for why things happen. In the above example of the drawing that was looked over by the teacher, help your child come up with other possible explanations for why the teacher overlooked his beautiful drawing.

Helping your child come up with alternate explanations helps him develop resilient coping strategies. This means that your child avoids extremes when interpreting his troubles. It also means that he develops a more flexible way of coming up with explanations-instead of finding one extreme explanations for a difficulty, he sees a variety of possible explanations. This helps him choose the most likely explanation. It's about being more emotionally aware-maybe the teacher was tired that day and so overlooked the drawing because she couldn't concentrate.

This may start to sound complex, but it doesn't have to be. Simply put, you're helping your child look at life's hardships as something to be overcome, not something that overwhelms them. It's as simple as offering your child different ways of perceiving troubles. It's simple, but it makes all the difference.