Building Resilience in Children
Resilience is a word we hear a lot about these days and its importance in coping with the stress of COVID-19. What exactly is resilience? And how are the children adopting it as a coping mechanism? Coping mechanisms are the strategies people often use during stress or trauma to help manage their painful or difficult emotions. These mechanisms help people maintain their emotional well-being.
Resilience is nothing but the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change and keep going in the face of adversity. It is, being able to bounce back from stress, trauma, tragedy or diversity. Children when they are resilient, they end up being braver, more curious, more adaptable and more able to reach out to the world. It is something which can be nurtured in all children.
There are a number of ways by which we can build resilience in children.
- Resilience needs relationships not uncompromising independence. Children need the presence of a responsible adult to reverse the physiological changes that are activated by stress. It could be a family member, teacher or a coach
- Children should be exposed to the people who care about them, more. They should know the people in their fan club. Anything that can be done to build their connection with the people who love them will strengthen them
- Children should be made to understand that its perfectly fine to ask for help. They feel that its brave to handle things on their own. We should let them know that being brave & strong means knowing when to ask for help.
- Strengthen their executive functioning. This will help them increase their capacity to develop coping strategies. Executive functioning can be built by-
- Establishing routines
- Modelling heathy social behaviour
- Helping them make social connections
- Creative play
- Memory & board games
- Exercise which strengthens and reorganizes the brain to make it more resilient to stress
- Giving them opportunities to think and act independently
- Establishing routines
- Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery. Acknowledge their strengths, their efforts when they do difficult and brave things. Encourage them to make their own decisions. This makes them less likely to be reactive to future stress and become more resilient.
- Nurture optimism. Optimism is a very important habit to develop in children. Children who think optimistically are more resilient. Ways to build optimism are
- Be a positive role model
- Interpret failure as an opportunity
- Encourage children to set their own goals
And above all else let them know that they are loved unconditionally. This will give them a solid foundation to come back to when the world seems wobbly. Building belief in themselves is one of the biggest parts of resilience. It’s the best thing they will ever believe in.