What is emotional resilience?
Emotional resilience is your ability to respond to difficult situations that come your way. Those with strong emotional resilience can look at difficult situations they face and see a challenge and be motivated to tackle it. Those with weak emotional resilience find challenges extremely stressful and are unable to manage their emotions in order to tackle it.
Why is it important?
Emotional resilience is a key skill that is needed throughout life. Life will present kids with various challenges, for example, bullies, moving homes, losing friends, taking tests, trying new things, etc. so they need to able to hold themselves together emotionally while facing these difficult challenges. Looking at difficult situations as challenges that must be overcome is what helps boost our perseverance and determination – something that young people often lack these days.
Resilient kids are also more able to take healthy risks because they’re not afraid of taking on new challenges or failing. They don’t see failure as the end. They have more curiosity and so are able to try new things and are beave enough to tackle it. They are able to see the safety in relationships and can identify boundaries. This enables them to take small steps outside of their comfort zone, knowing well that they have a place to come back to.
As a parent, when your child is going through a difficult situation, what do you do?
Do you fix it for them? Do you walk them through how it needs to be fixed? Do you leave them to fix it on their own?
Most parents don’t like seeing the discomfort in their children and so instantly try to fix the problem for them. However this isn’t great for the long term – your child will become increasingly unable to manage the feeling of discomfort. This is how your children will grow problem solving skills.
As children grow, they will benefit from being brave enough to take on new challenges, experience discomfort, problem solve and come out the other side. Having this full experience means that your child has grown some level of resilience. Soon they will face another challenge, which they will feel more confident in tackling because they know they have overcome this before.
Strong Emotional Connection With Your Child
Building a strong emotional connection means that your child feels safe to take on new challenges. They have faith and trust that you, as a parent or carer, will be standing there waiting to hug them as they succeed or fail. They have no doubts that you will hold them. When a child has a strong emotional connection with the parent, they are certain that they have someone to go to in order to ask for help.
Don’t Fix It
As a parent, not fixing things for your child is extremely difficult. It means that you have to watch your child struggle. However this struggle is what will help them grow. It will enable them to become stronger. The strategy to use is to guide them by asking questions. Ask them what the options they have are and what they think the advantages and disadvantages of each of those options are.
This will help them build problem solving skills which will be essential for them as they grow.
Emotions are a key part of every situation – your response and your behaviour are based around what you feel. Knowing exactly what you feel will enable you to take the correct decisions and behave appropriately. For example, knowing the difference between being angry and irritated means that you knowing
Mistakes need to be seen as just mistakes – we, as parents without any ill intention, often focus on the negatives of the mistakes. For example, you tell your child to put their dishes in the sink, and they go to the sink with their plate and drop it in – this causes the plate to shatter. What is your first reaction? Why did they do that? Maybe they saw you throw a spoon in to the sink yesterday and thought that’s how you’re supposed to put things in the sink? Instead, if we focus on the positives and the learning, children will learn to see mistakes as stepping stones towards growth, rather than a reason to feel like a disappointment and think less of themselves.
These are a few of the strategies that you can keep in mind as your child builds emotional resilience within themselves. Be sure to be there for your children as a guide and as a role model so that they can learn how to become emotionally resilient. Have a think about your reactions and compare them with your child’s – are there any similarities?
Emotional resilience is a key skill needed to face challenges throughout life – if you or your child are having any struggles with their emotions, please do not hesitate to get in touch and I can give you some tips.