When we think of “resilience,” our minds will jump to the definition of, “The ability to recover, or ‘bounce back,’ quickly from a difficult situation.” Sometimes it’s even how our toughness is measured.

In other words, to be resilient is to adapt in challenging environments. In many situations, children and teens have the capability of bouncing back easily. Still, there’s more to being resilient than how we’ve defined it.

Let’s first look at ourselves. When we can’t feel ourselves bounce back from a negative experience, it can cause feelings of being stuck. We think, “I want to go back to the way I was.” Maybe a serious health issue caused you to look at your life differently, or a heart break has changed your outlook on life.

Both situations cause our personality to change, and this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’re still yourself – a new you with a new normal. We are after all ever-evolving human beings, right from the second we’re born. As we encounter challenging experiences, we learn how to prepare for similar events in the future so that we can adapt and overcome.

In this view, resilience is a skill. It must be learned, practiced, and refined over time. As parents and caregivers, we must help children foster their resilience. At times we’ll find ourselves thinking, “It’s okay, I’ll keep a close eye,” right after a child has become upset in the face of adversity. You go on hoping that your child recovers appropriately.

Dismissing the child’s struggle is a risk factor in developing their personal strength – this instills the idea of hiding one’s struggles. When a child has difficulties in adapting, it’s not a sign of failing to be resilient. It is a sign that the problem was beyond the capabilities of the child. It may have been an experience to the degree that any person would have come out feeling overwhelmed.

Even the strongest person only knows how to take on difficulty to a certain point.

How can children build resilience?

The most important thing for developing resilience is the strength of the relationship between the child and caregiver. A strong caregiver relationship can model actions that incorporate planning, monitoring, and regulating behavior. These are foundational skills to resilience. You can strengthen your relationship with a child by spending one-on-one time with them in a way that aims at these skills.

The key is to show the child ways you problem-solve, effectively being an example in their eyes. You can do things like helping the child make a simple dish with you, take on age-appropriate responsibilities at home, or even read to them a book before going to bed. These ideas naturally cause children to overcome problems, as well as listen to stories of how others have faced uncertainty.

You can reinforce teachings with the gesture of crouching down to the child’s height and facing him/her when speaking. Kids know when they have your attention and support, giving them a feeling of empowerment.

When it comes to your child

If you see your child’s behavior has been different, look at what’s going on in their lives. Remember, challenging environments can change our behaviors and personality. It may be that a situation has formed a “new normal” for your child – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, if you’re concerned about your child, Grow Wellness Group can offer help. We work to support the entire family, and you can learn more by reaching out to us to learn more about our therapy and mental wellness services to propel you on your journey!