Raising Resilient Children
Children are faced with numerous stressors. But why is coddling not the answer? A parent educator shows how we, as parents, can promote our youngsters' resiliency.
What Is Resiliency?
Each day after school, Sandy bursts through the front door, backpack swinging from one shoulder. If the day has gone well, Sandy is a delight to be around, cheerful and affectionate. But just as often, she comes home in tears, sobbing, “I’m so stupid, I can’t do anything right.” Or, “The teacher is so mean, she doesn’t like me!” Even more drastic, she’ll announce, “Nobody likes me.”
Sandy’s mom says that it’s her daughter’s temperament: Sandy’s just sensitive. So Mom does everything she can to bolster Sandy’s self-esteem. Because Sandy seems to be even more fragile in fourth grade than she was in third, Mom works even harder to cuddle, love, and protect her little daughter.
In one sense, Sandy’s mom is right, growing up is hard. Elementary school-aged children are faced with numerous stressors we wish we could eliminate from their young lives–disagreements between friends, anxiety over school, peer pressure, sibling quarrels, overly scheduled lives, little time to play outside, even exposure to and alcohol. But coddling doesn’t help. Often what our children need is to learn resilience–to become as resistant to negative influences and difficulties as Teflon is to sticky food.
Resiliency is the ability to persevere and adjust when faced with adversity. We all face adversity, but it’s the way we react that determines how we feel and how well we perform in those circumstances. Resilient children do better in school, have more positive social experiences and achieve high levels of personal and professional success. Children who are naturally resilient, or are taught to be resilient, thrive. Given all the temptations which school-aged children are faced with in today’s world, teaching our children resiliency skills may be one of our best weapons to “fight back” against negative influences.
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