Whether it be adapting to a new classroom, being away from family during a pandemic, not making the sports team, or a change in household rituals, children face challenging situations. It is resilience that allows them to bounce back from the stress, failures, or even trauma.
But how do children become resilient?
Resilience is our ability to recover or adapt to misfortune. This isn’t something that children either have or don’t, but rather a skill that they can develop as they age. As in resistance training where the stress of the weight allows the connective fibers of the muscle to grow, adverse times strengthen the skill of emotional resiliency.
Psychologists say that the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or another adult. As parents, we may want to shield our children from the hard moments in life, yet our job is to help kids be with life, not to keep life from happening to them.
When something hard happens and we guide our children in rising to the occasion, we help bolster grit. We can do this in many ways such as helping children notice and name their emotions, validating their experience, embracing mistakes, encouraging healthy risk-taking, and modeling the skill ourselves. Children who have the unconditional support of the adults in their life feel more empowered to seek guidance and make attempts to work through difficult situations, nurturing the kindness and resilience within them.
Resilience And A Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is a belief that our most basic abilities can be developed through hard work and practice. This view creates a love of learning and encourages resilience.
When we understand, empathize, and validate our children’s experiences, they are more likely to trust their instincts. As we model and teach that mistakes are safe and useful, children become less fearful of falling short of expectations and do the courageous work of stepping outside of their comfort zones.
Children who have been taught the skills of resilience and are offered opportunities to practice, develop the confidence to confront, and work through perceived obstacles. The more they bounce back from a mistake or hard times, the more they internalize the message that they are strong and capable.
Here are 5 children’s books that help build resilience in kids
This book focuses on cultivating a growth mindset and helps young perfectionists learn that mistakes happen, and that life can actually be more fun when you find joy in making them.
Getting comfortable with unpleasant feelings is an essential part of learning the skills of resilience. This book reassures kids that is okay to be in a bad mood, and reminds them that all feelings are meant to be felt - both the pleasant and unpleasant!
In this playful get-up-and-move book, children join Heart on an adventure to find out where love lives. When we hold up a mirror so that children can see the love that they are - in the midst of all feelings and all situations - we nurture emotional strength and resilience.
This heartfelt book fosters a growth mindset and builds resilience, teaching kids that simply pausing to process feelings can help them move forward. Sometimes all we need is for someone to listen.
This is a story to inspire children to look closely at that their problems to find out why it's here. When children stick with it, they just might discover something amazing about their problem and themselves.
Teaching children how to bounce back from challenging situations takes time and consistency. As with all big life skills, the lessons are in the journey - a road both adults and children travel together.
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