It's inevitable. At some point, a classmate is going to expose your kid to mature content. It could be a disturbing video, an explicit story, or something else that you wanted to protect them from. While you can't prevent these kinds of negative experiences from happening, you can prepare your kids ahead of time to handle these things. It comes down to teaching one essential skill that equips them to face and adapt to these challenges on their own.
It's time to raise resilient kids because life isn't all rainbows and smooth sailing.
Now, what do we mean when we talk about raising resilient kids? Simply put, kids are resilient when they are able to call on their inner strength to positively meet challenges, navigate adversities, and thrive in difficult circumstances. In other words, resilience is a character quality that comes as your kids learn the confidence to handle whatever life throws at them. That sounds like something we all want for our kids, right?
Of course and here's the good news! Resilience isn't like brown hair. It's not something you're either born with it or not. Instead, resilience is a skill every kid can develop with the right guidance and you play an important role in helping them cultivate the core pieces of it.
Resilient Kids Are Secure In Their Beliefs
Let's consider this example: your kid is at school and a classmate starts telling a sexually graphic story in the hallway. It's not your kid's fault that they find themselves caught in this situation that makes them uncomfortable but now that they are here, what do they do? Resilient kids know what they believe is ok and make choices guided by those principles. In this situation, that might mean your kid walks away even if everyone else is crowding around to laugh at this story.
This kind of strength doesn't just pop up on its own but starts at home.
As the parent, you play an essential role because you set the values that your family operates on. You teach your kids right and wrong based on the beliefs you hold for yourself and everyone in your household. Yet, just knowing what they're supposed to believe about right and wrong doesn't build character or develop resilience in your kids.
Resilient kids know the WHY, not just the WHAT.
Even though it would be much easier, we know that it's not enough to just teach kids about the difference between what is right and wrong. Rather, we have to help our kids learn where our values stem from.
"We don't watch violent videos because humans and animals deserve to be treated with respect."
"We don't tell dirty jokes because it makes people seem like objects."
"We don't use that slang because it's harmful to people that look different from us."
It doesn't matter what the situation is, take the time to explain to your kid what makes a certain kind of behavior unacceptable in your family (Remember, this is going to look different for every family!). Going this extra step is the key to raising resilient kids because it helps them develop a strong moral compass to guide them in situations when you can't be there. When they face negative experiences, they'll have the inner security needed to make wise choices without second-guessing themselves or running to you.
Resilient Kids Are Confident In Themselves.
Think back to our example of a classmate telling a dirty story around your kid at school. Even if your kid walks away from the situation, they may feel disturbed by what they heard or wonder if they made the right choice. This is completely normal! Yet, resilient kids can face this internal conflict and process their emotions in a healthy way that promotes internal growth. How does this happen?
Resilient kids have strong coping skills.
One of the most essential skills that resilient kids use to process challenging experiences is the ability to manage their emotions. Instead of being controlled by what they're feeling at the moment, they learn how to handle their feelings in a healthy way. What does this look like in action? It means that these kids are able to name and process their negative emotions on their own.
This essential skill begins at home.
As a parent, you play a key role in helping your kids develop the ability to recognize their true emotions. This means teaching your kids to dive beneath the surface and go deep into their feelings. Once they've drawn out and named the emotion they're struggling with, they can also identify what is causing that feeling in the first place. With the emotion and root cause now exposed, you can help them learn how to respond in a way that solves the problem instead of making it worse.
As your kids continue to practice this over time, their ability to handle more and more complicated situations will increase. Rather than needing you to solve every hiccup they encounter, they'll have the strength to handle the situation on their own. It's exactly this inner strength that breeds self-confidence in your kid and develops resilience within them.
Resilient Kids Are Rooted In Deep Connections.
Recall our example of your kid being placed in an uncomfortable situation at school. Even if they've stuck to their moral beliefs and run this challenging experience through their coping skills, they may still struggle with the situation. Maybe they have lingering anxiety about doing the right thing or wonder if they'll be laughed at for walking away. While this is totally normal, resilient kids are able to respond to these negative feelings in a unique way.
These kids have a strong support base to fall back on.
Resilience doesn't mean that your kid won't need to rely on anyone. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Resilient kids develop strong relationships with their families or friends that are built on mutual trust so they know they're not alone if they start to struggle. They have people in place to answer hard questions and help brainstorm creative solutions to problems. This community gives them a sense of security that allows them to tackle negative experiences from a place of security and strength.
These strong relationships don't form overnight; they're cultivated.
It's tempting to think that building strong relationships with our kids happens primarily when we support them through the "big" moments in their life. However, this isn't the case. Instead, we lay the foundation for strong relationships in the small, everyday moments that are easy to pass over. It begins by simply being present with your kid as often as you can.
Did they have a hard day at school? Sincerely offer up words of thoughtful encouragement.
Did they improve their grade in a class (even if it's from a C to a B)? Praise the hard work that they put in to get better.
Did they reach a personal goal like going viral on social media? Wholeheartedly celebrate that victory with them.
The situation will depend on your kid but the point is the same! Take advantage of the small moments because these create the foundation that a strong relationship is built upon. When the big things come up, your kid will be used to having you at their side so they will naturally lean on you. The deep relationship you build with them will foster the resilience they need in life.
At the end of the day, raising resilient kids starts at home.
You're the one that helps them learn to be secure in their beliefs, confident in themselves, and rooted in their community. These key attributes of resilience don't spring up overnight but are developed with the right guidance as you get involved in the big and small moments that your kids face. As they develop their ability to tackle the challenges, their resilience will grow and they'll be better prepared to face the up and downs that life throws at them.