All parents can probably agree that they would love for their children to be resilient. Resilient children are less likely to suffer from anxiety or stress, and are more likely to have higher self-esteem and be able to solve their own problems.
Here are three simple steps to helping your children become more resilient:
1. Resist the urge to “fix” their problems.
Let’s say your teenager is failing their Algebra class. Your first impulse may be to hire him a tutor or call his teacher to ask if there are opportunities for extra credit. But by jumping right in to solve this problem for him, you’re teaching him that mom or dad will always be there (and be able) to “fix” any problems he may have. This is simply not true. What you should do instead is commiserate with him—“Algebra is a hard subject. I’m sorry you’re struggling.”—and ask him what he thinks he could do about it. Maybe his ideas will be the same as yours (hiring a tutor, asking for extra credit), but they will be his.
2. Acknowledge and talk about their feelings.
Many parents are uncomfortable with their children’s anger or sadness. This can be especially true for divorced parents, as we may feel responsible for them feeling this way. But rather than distracting our children from their difficult emotions, what we should do instead is acknowledge and talk about them. “You’re really sad today. I know you miss Dad. Do you want to talk about it?” “You seem a little homesick. It’s hard not to have Mom here to tuck you in. Would you like to tell me about it?” This will help your children—and you—recognize their emotions and develop healthy coping strategies to deal with them.
3. Remind them that we can do hard things.
Your confidence in your children will help them develop confidence in themselves. Confidence that they can handle difficult situations, solve tough problems, and navigate their way through negative emotions. Letting your children see how you do all this will give them a model they can follow.