How can parents and teachers build resilience in themselves and children?
All too quickly the long summer days of respite from the classroom are coming to an end. Unfortunately, the holiday period for many has not just been one of care-free summer days swimming and visiting local shops. Rather, it has been yet another filled with changed plans, health worries, and an impending uncertainty about the upcoming school year. What if there was a way to strengthen our children to cope with the high probability that their return to school will hit a few speed bumps somewhere along the way?
It is natural as parents that we would want to make the road ahead as smooth as we can for our children, however sometimes (now being an example of one such time) we have no control over what the road ahead looks like for our child. So how can we, as parents, better prepare our child for the road ahead and not prepare the road ahead for our child?
What if we could help our children not only be resilient but also be not so fragile. In these uncertain times, it could be one of the most important skills we teach our children.
It’s not easy for parents to know how to challenge their child in the face of anxiety, especially if you as a parent are experiencing anxiety about the current situation as well. From what I’ve seen, a number of parents and children are not being taught the skills to be strong in the high likelihood that situations will change. Learning how to adapt and sit with unpredictability rather than rallying against it and fearing it can be key to overcoming anxiety.
We need to be teaching our children to be stronger in themselves, so that they can handle the high likelihood that life is going to be full of unexpected events, people who behave badly towards them, and challenging times.
This said, my point is we should be helping our kids to not get blown off their feet by hurdles out of their and your control but build their capacity to meet with these challenges head-on. How can parents learn the skills they need to set aside their own anxieties and coach their child to challenge anxious thoughts and face adversity.
The real question is how can we help children to not avoid difficulty, and face adversity head-on?
A bottom-line is that, we can’t legislate away randomness. As Nicholas Taleb says in his book Black Swans, life is going to present all of us with difficult days, weeks and months. Instead of trying to predict these challenging events we should build robustness to deal with them.
In preparing our children for life and difficulty and recovery, we need to build in them the capacity to be ‘anti-fragile’. How do we help them to develop resilience and coping skills so that they can draw from a toolbox of resilience skills when these moments will inevitably occur.
Waiting until the inevitable happens and then seeking out some kind of remediation by putting a psychological band-aid on a child is closing the gate after the horse has bolted.
I have developed online parent courses on child anxiety - and how parents can find themselves too often accommodating their child’s anxiety. To find out more about the online webinars for Parents to help manage anxiety and build resilience in children and young people see the links below for an age-appropriate course.
I have developed a program for teachers and teacher aides to manage a child’s anxiety and build resilience in children and young people in the classroom. See the links below for an age-appropriate program for your primary or secondary school.
For child and family specialists working with children aged 2 - 12 year old or their parents our professional development program for you is available via webinar, or as an in-house training opportunity in your organisation.