by: Dyan Eybergen BA,RN,ACPI
While adulthood is often challenging and filled with responsibility, childhood has its fair share of ups and downs. Children and youth are often faced with having to navigate through difficult change: learn new information and endure new experiences; change schools, move neighborhoods, encounter bullies, make new friends and have their hearts broken once or twice. So what enables some young people to do well in school, form meaningful relationships and be optimistic about the future, in spite of these challenges, while others become depressed or self-destructive? Teaching children and youth skills to recover from difficulties or change help to develop resilience. Resilient kids are problem solvers. They face unfamiliar or tough situations and strive to find good solutions.
Here are some valuable suggestions for raising resilient children and youth:
• Respond to each child based on his/her unique needs, abilities, skills and temperament
• Teach emotional intelligence through developing a “feelings vocabulary”
• Teach coping and problem solving skills that will offset more difficult temperaments in children
• Model and teach social skills and interpersonal etiquette in order to get along with others
• Give those with difficult temperaments time to process intense feelings and limit overwhelming experiences
• Provide those with a disorganized temperament a predictable, consistent environment
• Listen with interest...even when you disagree
• Model respectful communication
• Ask open-ended questions to facilitate communication and encourage disclosure
• Discuss moral questions that arise in the media
• Teach anger management skills that keep your words and body language neutral (practice emotional intelligence)
We are not automatically born resilient; our lives influence how resilient we will become. Individual, family and community risk and protective factors play a major role in just how resilient an individual turns out to be. Some risks factors to consider are genetic vulnerabilities to mental health disorders, violence in the family and poverty. Protective factors, to name a few, are adequate individual emotional support, effective parenting and exposure to positive life experiences. The more skills taught to children and youth and the more protective factors in place the more resilient an individual becomes.