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Resiliency: 3 Strategies to Help Teach Your Children These Crucial Skills

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

What comes to your mind when you see this picture of a lighthouse? Does it make you think of a recent vacation with your family? How about feelings of awe, calm, or hope? You may like visiting lighthouses so much that you are planning your next trip where you can visit one! Lighthouses certainly do serve as powerful imagery for us. We consider these structures to be strong as they are able to weather rough storms and help sailors with navigation out at sea. When you think of it, a lighthouse can serve as a symbol for resilience. Resiliency is the ability to face challenges and be able to “bounce back” by adapting and turning those struggles into strengths. Just as a lighthouse weathers a storm and continues to remain standing, people who show resilience are able to weather their own storms and continue to show strength in the process.

Resiliency is a set of skills that your children can learn. This is great news! As parents, you can set the foundation for your children’s development and teach them resiliency skills and continue to foster them as your children grow and mature. There are so many naturally occurring situations where your children will face challenges outside of the home as they navigate school, friendships, and extracurricular activities, to name a few. When these situations occur, it can be helpful to focus on these three tips to guide conversations with your children:

1. Identifying Feelings and Teaching Coping Strategies- When your children express negative feelings surrounding a challenge they have experienced, it is important to provide a listening ear and validate their feelings first before trying to help them problem solve. Doing this can help children feel comfortable and safe expressing how they are feeling, both verbally and nonverbally. In these situations, encourage your children to use coping strategies to calm down, and then when they are ready, you can try processing the situation with them. Talking to your children proactively about various coping strategies on days they are calm, involving them in the discussion, can be quite helpful so that you are not trying to teach these skills at the moment.

2. Reinforcing Effort, Learning, and Progress- Your children are coming to you upset about an outcome they have received. Praising their efforts helps reinforce the idea that they have the ability to make choices that can positively lead to the desired outcome. In addition to focusing on effort, it is also important that you help your children evaluate how their choices are impacting their learning and progress. Children can assume that doing the same thing over and over will eventually lead to their goal; if the effort is counterproductive, this will not be the case. Having discussions with your children on what they think they did well and what they may want to change for next time can help your children develop resiliency skills.

3. Delayed Gratification- This is a hard concept for even adults to follow! Because children’s brains are still developing, they need extra support from adults to help support their growth. Teaching delayed gratification is invaluable as children will learn that they may not be able to get everything they want right away and that they will need to put in the work/time/effort in order to achieve something desired. Homework before free time, working toward a reward on a positive behavior chart, and teaching your children to wait their turn, are all examples. Delaying gratification can help increase your children’s cognitive flexibility, patience, persistence, and appreciation for when they are able to receive a positive outcome.

If your child has experienced trauma and you need support in helping to implement trauma-informed care to build resiliency, we are here to help. Please contact us at 703-942-9745 or to inquire about our telehealth services.

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