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Building Resilience in Children - What is Resilience?

By Andrew Loh



Resilience - "The capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress" (Merriam-Webster)

Days in and days out, small children face abnormally serious emotional situations that relate to several family problems like divorce among parents, an incidence of death in the family or even separation from near and dear ones. Most of these common, but debilitating incidences can either strengthen or weaken a child. Whether they damage the psyche of a child beyond repair depends entirely on the child's resilience. The factor of resilience is very critical to your child, because it is the most intrinsic and integral capacity of a person to encounter, face, overcome any traumatic, emotional, tragic and piquant situations that arise occasionally in life. Every child in this world faces adversities at one point or the other. In fact, no one is immune!

The power of resilience in your children can help them face any type of situations in life. They can win over any trauma or tragic incidences. They can win over the pressures and pulls of a tough classroom. More often, the crises and problems that arise from within the family and from outside can overwhelm your children. All children in this world have some inner strength to face emotionally debilitating situations. However, it may not be enough to sustain the emotional upheaval that goes inside the mind of a young child. Outside help and assistance is very essential for your children, especially in times of trouble. However, it may not be just enough.

Mind you, children badly need their parents' love, affection, trust and hope to sustain their life. Food and shelter are insufficient for your children. They also need safer environment to grow and thrive along with your love and affection. All these simple things in your children's life can make them resilient in their life that eventually helps them to lead a life of hope and aspirations.

The power of resilience is a primary ability with all humans including children; however, this ability seems to be very nascent in young children. Resilience in children comes automatically with age; as your children grow and develop, they will enhance their ability to withstand external influences that are negative in nature. Parents and teachers can promote the power of resilience with their words, behavior, actions and demeanor. Resilience in children also depends on the kind of environment they grow and develop. Parents and teachers also help their children become self-sufficient, autonomous, independent, self-motivated, empathetic and helping. Furthermore, they also assist their children become hopeful and trusting, so that they can handle any difficult situations in life.

Children need the power of resilience to face and encounter a number of crises that are so common these days. There could a number of piquant and adverse situations in your children's life. Among these adverse situations, some of the most common ones are:

  • Death in the family

  • Divorce

  • Separation

  • Illness among family members

  • Acute poverty

  • Migration to another place

  • Personal injuries

  • Peer pressure

  • Classroom stress and pressure

  • Bullying by peers

Children who face adverse situations always feel solitary and lonely, frightful and extremely vulnerable. Those children who are resilient are confident enough to face any situations. For them, the feelings mentioned above are less stressful and overwhelming. Beneficial resources of self confidence and self belief will help them face any odds. Most of us have three main sources of resilience within us and they play a major role in how far we can develop the character of resilience. These three sources of resilience are as follows:

Note: These three sources of resilience will help us to overcome all stressful and adverse situations that arise almost everyday.

  1. I Have

  2. I Am

  3. I Can

I Have

This is perhaps the most important source of inspiration to develop resilience in children. In fact, they keep looking for this source all the time and throughout the day. “I have” - these two important words provide a sense of solace and hope for your children. Your children may believe that you and spouse are there always by their side to help them out from any adverse situations. For them, you are the beacon of hope and inspiration. For them, you are the guide who has the ability to steer them towards the right path.

Examples:

  • I trust my parents, brothers, sisters and teachers because they help me when I am in trouble.

  • I know that my parents and teachers want me to succeed in my classes.

  • I know that my parents want me to do things on my own.

I Am

These two words are essential in developing self image and self belief. When your children develop self-confidence, they can also develop the power of resilience and toughness. These two words signify inner strength of your child and they will also help them in enhancing motivational powers.

Examples:

  • I know that I am a person who can be trusted and believed by others.

  • I know that I can empathize with others, when they are in problems.

  • I know that I can be responsible with my actions and deeds.

  • I know that I can face any difficult situations with ease and confidence.

I Can

These two critical words are the source of resilience in your children, because they can help them to streamline their social and societal behavior. They are also very important in inter-personal communicational and communications skills. When your children understand the innate meanings of these two words, they can develop self confidence and self belief as well.

Example:

  • I can easily tell others about those things and events that frighten me.

  • I can easily solve any type of problems.

  • I can talk to other people about my problems.

  • I can find someone who can help me when I need it.

The meaning of resilience is way beyond ordinary words. It is something that you alone can comprehend and understand. Likewise, your children can understand their abilities and capacities like you. They may need more time to build the character of resilience, because their mental attitude and development needs more time to develop and mature. Continue to read Building Resilience in Children - Basic Methods and Techniques



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