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Dr. Ducharme’s Blog Building Resilience in Kids August 26, 2019

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Some days I wonder about the effects of our newer parenting styles. We try so hard to make sure our kids feel like winners. We want them to feel special and be at the top. This all sounds good initially. But, one of the consequences seems to be that a lot of kids don’t know how to handle losing or defeat. As kids are returning to school in the next few weeks, consider these tips to help your kids become more resilient.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to adapt to adversity, tragedy, threats and even routine stress. Children can be faced with lots of problems, including divorce, violence in the home, bullying in school, girlfriend/boyfriend issues and the everyday issues connected to growing up. In order to survive and actually thrive in spite of these challenges we need to be resilient.

Some kids just naturally have this skill. Difficulties seem to bounce off their backs or spur them on to do better. Other children seem to crumble in the face of adversity. They end up feeling victimized and anxious. The good news is that resilience can be learned. It is a skill like any other. And practice really helps.

The American Psychological Association recommends the following ideas for you to teach your child:

1. MAKE CONNECTIONS: Teach a child how to make friends, including the skill of empathy and understanding things from another person’s point of view. Involve your child in some activity that encourages team work and friendship.
 

2. HELP OTHERS:  Kids who feel helpless or isolated can be empowered by helping  read stories. Age appropriate volunteering is wonderful at building self-esteem and resilience.

 

3. MAINTAIN A ROUTINE: During periods of stress, structure and routine really help kids feel comfortable and safe. Morning and bedtime rituals are very important for

children. They impart a sense of control.

 

4. LIMIT TIME ON ELECTRONICS/SOCIAL MEDIA.  Teach them the art of actual conversation.                                               

 

5.RELAX AND TAKE A BREAK: While it is important to stick to routines, endless worry can be counter-productive. Help a child focus on something besides what is worrying

 him or her. Be aware that what a child is exposed to can be troubling, such as information heard on television, the Internet and even adult discussions.

 

6.TEACH SELF-CARE: Set the tone by taking care of yourself. Help your child understand the importance of healthy eating, exercise and rest.

 

7. SET GOALS AND MOVE TOWARDS THEM: Try to get your child to set realistic goals and action plans to achieve them.

 

8. TEACH THEM TO WALK STRONG AND TALK BIG: This is really important in a world  where bullying is quite common. Teach them to walk confidently with their head up. Let them practice saying “stop it” or “that is not nice” in a strong voice that

means business. Bullies are more likely to pick on kids than seem weak and unable to defend themselves.

 

If your child continues to have difficulty with managing anxiety and stress and adapting to changes, talk to a psychologist trained to listen and help your child develop these skills.