Resiliency: How To Build It

by | Apr 12, 2022 | Family, Mental Health, Parenting with Purpose

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Help your kids “Bounce Back.”

Have you ever asked yourself these questions about your children? 

“Why does she give up so easily?” 

“How come my son gets discouraged as soon as things get hard?” 

“Why aren’t they willing to try anything new?” 

sad girl with head against the wall

Many children are easily discouraged, feel defeated and don’t bounce back from mistakes. The ability to recover from set backs is called resiliency. Wouldn’t you like your child to be resilient? 

We all want our children to be resilient, but how do we teach them that trait? Resiliency is an essential skill for success in life. Everyone experiences set-backs, mistakes, and heartbreaks. Resilient people are able to bounce back, recover and respond positively when tough things happen.

What does resiliency look like in a child?

Children with resiliency respond well when they are presented with a problem or adversity. Typically, they are good problem solvers, are organized and responsible. An example might be the nine year old who decides that her mornings are more peaceful if she has a chart to follow. She creates a picture chart of all her morning tasks and posts it in the kitchen. This true story definitely describes a resilient child.

Other characteristics include being goal oriented, taking initiative and leading a purposeful life. This reminds me of the teenager who includes volunteering for the local food shelf as part of their regular activities. Participating as an active member of the broader community helps to develop resiliency. 

Finally, resilient children tend to have a positive attitude, good emotional control and the ability to ask for help when they need it. These children aren’t “perfect” but a combination of these skills is the foundation for leading a resilient life. 

Let’s look at how you can empower your kids to be resilient! 

Teaching Resiliency

There are many facets to resiliency, so I am going to simplify it by focusing on three main attributes: being Competent, Connected and Confident. By helping your child in these three areas you will train them to develop resiliency. These are great starting points.

Being Competent by Learning to “Bounce Back”

Being competent doesn’t come naturally for most children. Competence develops as we learn new skills and overcome our mistakes. So the important lesson here is to give your child the chance to make mistakes and learn skills. 

circle with I will bounce back in center- resiliency

Do you jump in to fix things as soon as they go wrong? The first time I tried to bake chocolate chip cookies I made a huge mistake. I read down the list of ingredients and put everything into the bowl at once. I didn’t follow the recipe instructions. When I discovered my mistake, I went to my mom. Rather than take over and try to fix it for me, she suggested that I start stirring. Well, it took a long time and the cookies weren’t the best, but I learned a valuable lesson about accepting my mistake and problem solving. 

Your child can learn new skills by helping around the house or by trying a new activity. Household chores are great ways to develop competence. Teach your child how to do chores, don’t assume they know how. Praise their effort and continue to set your expectations. As they improve, their competence will grow. 

Curiosity is at its highest during childhood. Take advantage of your child’s curiosity and encourage them to learn new skills by trying new activities. As a child I tried piano, clarinet, horseback riding, baton twirling, ice skating, water skiing, golf, skiing, camping. My skills in these areas varied, but I did grow in competence.  

Teach them to “Bounce Back”

Start to use the term “Bounce Back” with your children to encourage them to think about being resilient. When a problem arises, like the cookie dough, ask them, “How could you bounce back from this mistake?” If they are experiencing a friendship issue that has them discouraged, ask them how they could bounce back. Help them to brainstorm some ideas. 

“How could you Bounce Back?” Works for all kinds of set-backs, mistakes, problems and challenges. It opens their mind to thinking of solutions and moves them away from dwelling on the negative. A positive outlook is a sign of resiliency. So next time your child (or you) experience a difficult situation, ask “How can you Bounce Back?”

Being Connected with One-on-One Time

The most important connection for developing resiliency is the parent/child connection. Spending time with each of your children individually creates the deepest connections. These alone times allow you to focus solely on that child and to listen to their thoughts, dreams and worries. It builds their sense of self worth and their understanding of themselves through your eyes. We call this One-On-One Time and encourage parents to regularly schedule this time with each child.

mom and son on couch

For more information about One-On-One Time check out this freebie

Teaching your child to be connected takes time and opportunity. Connectedness for children means relationships not only with their parents, but also siblings, extended family and the broader community. It includes connectedness with your city, state and country. A friend of mine has a 5 year old son. The son is a HUGE Gopher fan (Univ. of MN). He is connected with the local community. 

Connection in family life happens when you celebrate together and events become traditions. Even a small family can establish traditions that keep them connected. It could be a simple as Taco Tuesdays or as complex as an elaborate Tea Party at Christmas time. These events produce memories which connect us to one another. 


Being Confident with Success Stories

Resiliency comes easier for confident children, but not all kids are confident. Confidence is believing in your ability to accomplish things. As children demonstrate their skills, parents typically respond with praise and affection. This builds your child’s confidence. 

Praising your child as a way to build confidence means your praise is specific. “Good job” is okay, but, “You gave 100% in the game today, you must feel proud” is a confidence building way to praise. Praising effort, rather than outcome, also builds confidence. This is useful when praising sports effort and school effort. Improvement is the focus when you are praising effort. 

Identifying your child’s strengths can help you to praise effectively. It will also help your child to better understand themself. When we know our strengths we learn to use those strengths to grow confident in our lives. My friend’s daughter has very strong empathy. She is drawn to visiting the elderly and listening to their stories. She is only a teenager, but already she has confidence because she knows her strengths. Learn more about your child’s strengths with this article, Do You Appreciate Your Child’s Strengths?

Tell their success stories to others

Success Stories are the “gold standard” for building confidence. When children hear their accomplishments and successes shared by their parents, they grow confident. Success Stories allow children to relive the event or achievement. It builds their belief in themselves and affirms their skills. 

Think about the stories you tell about your children. Are they Success Stories? Or do you tell stories of their faults? Be deliberate about telling stories about their success. It changes your mindset and builds your child’s confidence. 

Here’s a success story about my daughter.

As a third grader, my daughter signed up to sing the National Anthem (a cappella) for the Talent Show at school. Now that’s a tough song. But I will never forget my pride at watching her sing with all her heart.  And I never grew tired of telling our friends and family about her performance. The confidence she drew from that experience, and the Success Stories that followed, helped her to continue her musical performance career into college. 

If you are not sure how to start telling success stories, how about reading or watching shows about resiliency? Two of my favorites are the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and the movie Akeelah and the Bee. The main characters have to “bounce back” in a big way and end up with great success stories.


Resilience written on blue paper.- resiliency

Conclusion

Do you want to raise resilient kids? Of course you do! So start today to build Competence, Connectedness and Confidence. It’s easy if you just remember these three steps ~ Bounce Back, One-On-One Time, and Success Stories. 

Send us your Success Story! We love to hear from you. 

Share this post with a friend, we can all use some help in becoming Champion Parents! 


Resiliency: How to build it

by Lisa Reichelt, M.Ed., Parent Coach

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