Inside: Do you find yourself wondering how you can teach your kids to work through challenging situations? Read these must try tips for raising resilient kids!
Resiliency is strong attribute you want your kids to have. It’s a critical skill to navigate through the challenges that life inevitably throws at you.
But kids don’t automatically know how to be resilient in situations. Especially now when immediate gratification is everywhere.
Plus it’s really tough to toe that line between watching your kid struggle and helping them.
I sometimes get frustrated when my kids take a long time to do something I think is trivial. For example, it takes them a long time to put on their clothes or shoes, and because it takes too long for my liking, I just do it for them.
This is a bad habit I have to stop because it gives them the impression they can’t do it. Or if they get frustrated with putting their shoes or clothes on, instead of continuing to try, they give up easily because they know I’ll swoop in and do it for them.
If you don’t let your kids struggle a little bit, they won’t get that sense of satisfaction when they’ve conquered the challenge or figured out a solution.
It’s hard sometimes to let your kids struggle because you don’t want to hear them whine, cry, or flip out. But if you step in too soon, that short term gain of stopping those emotions, overshadows the long term gain of your kids growing up into resilient people.
You can’t always be there to prevent your kids from making mistakes, making poor choices, or feeling bad. But you can start to prepare them for how to deal with those things early, so as they get older they’re capable of handling them.
10 tips for raising resilient kids
1. Let them make mistakes
It’s in our nature to want to prevent our kids from making mistakes. We want to help them so they don’t have to feel embarrassed or upset that they did something wrong.
But letting your kids try something and discovering the natural consequence, is a better lesson in the long run.
Think about yourself. Do you remember something more if someone does it for you, or if you do it and experience the end result?
For me it’s definitely the latter. Kids are generally the same way.
So as long as they’re safe, let them make mistakes so they can experience the natural consequences and learn to deal with them.
2. Teach them to problem solve
This is something I’m working on with my oldest right now. She easily becomes overwhelmed when she gets upset so I’ve been working with her on problem solving.
For example, if your kid is playing and is getting upset because their sibling is taking their toys or stepping on their puzzle, step in and ask them what they think they can do to solve this?
Listen to their suggestions and talk to them about other options to solve their problem.
As I said, we’ve been having this discussion a lot in our house. One major problem my kids have is when they’re bothering each other. So we talk about how they can always take what they’re playing with and go to their room and shut their door. That way they can play alone and the problem is fixed.
If you see them problem solving on their own, you can point out what they just did, praise them, and encourage them to do that in the future.
3. Allow your kids to have feelings
It’s pretty hellacious to listen to your kids scream or cry. But it’s important to let them express their feelings. Although it can suck hearing them be upset, especially if it’s for a long time, they need to know they’re safe to express those feelings at home, with you, and that you’ll still love them.
Holding feelings in isn’t good for anyone.
Your kids need to hear it’s ok for them to feel any way they want, and they need you to reassure them that you’ll love them through those tough feelings.
Related: How To Handle Toddler Tantrums
4. Help them develop coping skills
Kids don’t automatically know how to deal with those big, scary emotions they feel. Which is why you get the big explosive outbursts when they’re little.
But once they’ve calmed down, you can talk to them about what they can do to help themselves when they feel a certain way.
For example, coloring, taking deep breaths, taking time away to calm down, etc. Then practice these coping skills with your kids before an outburst to give them plenty of chances to use them before they become really upset.
5. Ask them what they think
Kids ask a ridiculous amount of questions, which can get old quick especially if it’s the same question over and over!
One thing you can try is flipping it back to them.
Like if you have a kid that loves to ask why for everything, ask them what they think. It forces them to consider the question and form an opinion instead of just accepting someone else’s answer.
6. Help them with sibling relationships
Most kids inevitably have trouble in their sibling relationships. Whether that’s problems with sharing, the sibling ruining something they made, they took something from them, or they’re getting upset with each other.
This is another great moment to work on problem solving and coping skills.
It’s also a great teachable moment to talk to your child about how they can’t control how their sibling reacts or what they do, but they can control themselves.
That means if they don’t like what their sibling is doing, they can choose to walk away, they can choose to not play with them, they can choose to ignore them, etc.
Help them learn empathy as well when it comes to things like sharing. You can point out that when someone shares with them, it makes them feel good. When your child is sharing with their sibling, it makes the sibling happy.
You can begin teaching them that doing things for others makes other people, and themselves feel good.
Related: 6 Tips To End Sibling Rivalry
7. Let them do things for themselves, even if they struggle
This is another parenting moment that’s hard because again, you don’t want to see your kids struggle, or you’re frustrated because you think your kid should be able to do this task more quickly, so you step in and do it for them.
But your kids need to know they can conquer this challenge without help from you.
It’s also a moment when you have to step back and remind yourself that these tasks that are so trivial to you, are still new to your kids.
If your child has trouble putting on their shoes, or jacket and you’re worried about being late, let them get ready to leave early.
If they become upset because they think they can’t get their shirt on, sit with them and talk them through it and cheer them on when they’ve done it.
Point out how good it feels when they accomplished something that frustrated them.
8. Set limits and keep them
During toddlerhood your child is learning what they can and can’t do. They don’t automatically know limits and boundaries so you have to teach them.
Inevitably this stage comes with tears and frustration, (possibly from you both) as they’re learning they can’t get everything they want.
Your kids will learn much faster and will cope better when you’re consistent with setting limits and following through when they break the limits.
9. Let your kids look for things themselves instead of finding everything for them
I don’t know what it is with kids and seeming like they’re all of a sudden blind when they’re looking for something, but this happens with my oldest all the time!
She misplaces something and says she can’t find it and claims she’s looked everywhere. So I go look and voila, it’s in plain sight exactly where I told her it would be.
So now when she asks me “mommy, where’s my, (insert current favorite toy)?” I ask her, where was the last place she remembered having it? Start looking for it there.
If she still can’t find it I’ll suggest other places for her to look, but I avoid automatically looking and finding it for her.
This helps kids once again, problem solve and helps strengthen their reasoning skills, (I was in my bedroom last so I’ll look there first).
They’re also learning not to always rely on others to do things for them and that they’re capable of doing things for themselves.
10. Let them be bored
Kids now, have everything at their disposal. Toys, books, electronics, television, games, and more to keep them busy every second of the day.
Yet, so many times you probably hear your kids whine about being bored, (I know my oldest does!).
Instead of trying to find something to do for them, let them be bored!
Allowing them to entertain themselves boosts their creativity and imagination.
I totally get wanting to keep your kids from struggling or not wanting them to experience negative emotions. But you’ll have to find that balance that works for your family and you can use these tips for raising resilient kids to start teaching them this critical life skill early.
With these tips, your kids’ll grow into resilient adults and confidently face challenges head on as they grow up!