This article provides strategies to help develop your child’s resilience. It does not replace services of a licensed mental health professional. Contact Restorative Psychological Services if you are in need of more assistance.
Why my child is suddenly acting-out more
Many parents have reported noticing more emotional outbursts over the past few months. COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives drastically, so it is not surprising children have demonstrated more anxiety, clinginess, and oppositional behavior.
Added stress taxes our ability to manage troubling emotions. It does the same to kids. Careful not view this change in behavior as abnormal, but rather, understand that your child is trying to manage difficult emotions.
What is Resilience?
Parents are asking, “how can we build our child’s resilience?” Resilience refers to one’s ability to manage adversity, big or small, and adjust in a manner that creates little dysfunction in one’s life.
The good news is resilience can be learned. Research has demonstrated resilience is not an innate characteristic but a skill that can be developed. The bad news is, like any other skill, it takes time to nurture.
Building resilience does not happen overnight. It is like any other skill. It takes regular practice. Below are steps you can take to help your child build resilience.
Tips for Building Resilience
Help Your Child Build Meaningful Relationships
Feeling supported is paramount to resilience. The completely self-reliant and independent person who needs no support is for the movies. In real life, people manage adversity best when they trust they have people who care for them unconditionally.
Help your child build relationships by helping her develop empathy. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy is appreciating what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. You can help her develop empathy by asking her to consider how someone might feel in a situation. For example, ask her how a character in a movie you are watching might be feeling. Also, sure you are modeling this quality as well. Show your child you can understand someone else’s emotions.
Have Your Child Help Others
Helping others is great way to remind ourselves we are not helpless. Consider how your child may assist others so he can see the power he has to influence others feelings. Given our current circumstances, this could be through writing letters or making cards for people involved in pandemic. Of course, make sure this age appropriate for your child.
Routines Are Important
Children thrive when there is structure because the predictability of routines provides a sense of comfort. The absence of school and sports over the past few months has not helped children. Encourage a routine in your home. Reward your child for maintaining a set schedule.
Show Your Child How to Take Time to Recharge
As a parent, you are aware how quickly children see and model your behavior. It is very cute when your preschooler pretends to poor their morning cup of coffee. It is not as cute when they repeat the expletive you shout when you spill a glass of water on your phone. For or better or worse, children model a lot of your behaviors. Make sure you are showing your child how to manage stress and maintain a balanced life. They are always watching.
Do Something Together That Takes Longer Than One Sitting
Work on a project with your child that takes more than one sitting to show him how to break a large task into smaller ones. In this process, you also show him how to emotionally and intellectually respond to unexpected challenges. Don’t forget to revel in your accomplishment! We all need to praise ourselves. Below are some ideas for projects but be creative and do something you and your child are interested in.
- Build a bird house
- Complete an age appropriate challenging puzzle
- Paint a mural on plywood
- Grow some type of plant from seed inside or outside
- Write a song together
- Learn a new skill with him to show him you are always up for a challenge
Self-efficacy is the degree to which one believes he or she can accomplish something. This is not to be confused with self-esteem. Self-esteem is how one feels about oneself. It is easy to see how each can influence each other.
Help your child nurture her self-efficacy by reminding her of overcoming past difficulties. Be careful not to invalidate the difficulty of the current situation while doing this. Teach your child to laugh at their mistakes and failures. After-all, failure is a prerequisite to success.
Frame difficult situations as opportunities to prove oneself. Ask your child to identify what she learned from a difficult situation.
You Never Know Where Happiness is Waiting
As your child becomes older and is faced with more challenges, remind her how plans can change for the better even if we cannot yet see how. Reflect on your own life and explain how a seemingly adverse situations changed your life for the better. If you can’t think of one, there are plenty inspiring stories about celebrities, which, with your teen, might be more meaningful anyway.
So, maybe you’ve tried all this with no avail. Maybe you are not confident that this will be enough to help you and your child. Consider seeking professional help from a licensed mental health professional.
At Restorative Psychological Services, we offer individual therapy and parent training to help parents and children improve their lives and their relationships. We are a psychotherapy practice devoted to helping adolescents, teens, and adults find more ease in their lives. We serve Waldwick, Ridgewood, Upper Saddle River, Ho-Ho-Kus, and the rest of Bergen County and Northern New Jersey.