Trying to be more resilient
Stress is a fact of life; everyone deals with it. Some types of stress are even positive – the stress of buying a new home or starting a new job – and some stress can be negative and create issues.
Resilience is the ability to move through stress and get back to a baseline of feelings and emotions – normal, if you will, says Dr. Pradeep Kumar, a pediatrician at Aurora Health Center in Racine, Wis.
“Resilience is needed to succeed in life,” Dr. Kumar says. “Despite the best efforts of parents to shield their children, everyone experiences adversities and daily stressors. Resilience is a tool that children can develop to help them face trials, recover from them and face new challenges as they come up.”
What is resilience, and how can you help build it in your children?
According to Pediatrician and Author Kenneth Ginsburg, resilience is made up of seven different characteristics, the seven Cs:
- Competence: Knowing you can handle a situation effectively
- Confidence: A belief in your ability, gained from competence
- Connection: Strong ties to family and community
- Character: A solid set of morals and values to determine right from wrong
- Contribution: Knowing the world is better with you in it
- Coping: Using positive strategies to deal with stress
- Control: Understanding that you can control the decisions you make and the consequences that stem from it.
Making all the decisions for children and shielding them from consequences can sabotage the development of resilience, Dr. Kumar says.
“Parents’ desire to protect a child could send a message to them that you don’t consider them competent enough to make decisions,” he says. Comparing siblings and pushing a child to take on more than they can handle can also be detrimental to a child’s resilience.
“A child thrives when he or she has an adult in their life who believes in them and loves them unconditionally,” Dr. Kumar says. “Emotional and physical security at home, the freedom to express emotions and the opportunity reach out to parents in times of need are important factors for children to develop resilience.”
Here are some tips to help foster resilience in your child:
- Focus on a child’s individual strengths
- Empower your child to make age-appropriate decisions
- Praise honestly about specific achievements
- Demonstrate how behaviors can affect others
- Show the importance of community, avoid hateful comments and stereotypes
- Stress the importance of serving others
- Model positive coping strategies
About the Author
Heather Collier works in Advocate Aurora Health’s public affairs and marketing department. She is based in Milwaukee.