We are sending our children into a future filled with stress and conflict. Parents and teachers have the responsibility to model behaviors and teach skills that will enable our children to be productive, accepting, healthy, and above all, resilient.
Self-understanding and acceptance
Self-esteem is a realistic estimate of your own capabilities and worth. People with high self-esteem are productive, responsive, imaginative, and attentive to the needs of others. Encourage your children to develop their natural aptitudes and interests. Set them up for success. Empower them to be more responsible.
Journaling offers a place for older children to release their feelings about a stressful situation. A journal can be as simple as a plain notebook decorated by the child. Encourage children to write about their thoughts and feelings. Younger children can draw pictures. A journal may help children figure out how to handle a particular stressful situation.
We are what we think. Fill your language with statements that help your children see change in a positive way, to view adversity as manageable, to persist until they are successful, and to become more oriented to the needs of others. Prepare your children for the reality that others may not think or believe like they do. Teach your children to identify positive and negative feelings in themselves and others. Replacing destructive thinking with constructive thinking increases self-esteem and improves coping skills.
Good decision-making strategies
Making a good decision requires the ability to generate alternative solutions to a problem, predict consequences, view the problem from the perspective of others, and consider how to implement alternatives to reach a solution. Children as young as four or five can usually generate alternatives and predict consequences, but advanced decision making skills come later. Model good decision making for your children. Show children how characters in stories make decisions. Let your children make their own decisions whenever possible.
It’s not too early to teach children physical relaxation exercises like breathing techniques, some forms of meditation, imagery, and muscle relaxation exercises. Help your children learn to recognize their own stress triggers and responses, and identify which relaxation methods work best for them. And help your kids laugh–read funny stories, watch age-appropriate comedies, and laugh at their jokes.
This is a way for children to create positive and relaxing images and thoughts that can be used to block out upsetting ones. Children identify a favorite place, a relaxing point in time, or a special happy memory. Then the children close their eyes and imagine that they are at that favorite place.
Good nutrition and exercise
Good nutrition optimizes the way your mind and body works. A well-functioning mind and healthy body increase our self-esteem and resiliency. Make aerobic exercise and recreation a family affair. If your children see you exercise, they are more likely to take it up themselves and develop a lifelong positive habit.
A sense of purpose and commitment to personal and social goals
Commitment to goals gives meaning and value to life, and a reason for existence. Children should have more than one goal, and their goals should be realistic. Teach them to be flexible in how they achieve their goals, and help them learn persistence when progress is slow.
Social skills and social supports
Healthy relationships build self-esteem and protect from the negative effects of stress. Help your children to build self-awareness skills and to see situations from another’s point of view. Teach them to positively manage conflict and disagreement.
Resilient children grow up to be adults who have a sense of control, a positive view of change, and an ability to find meaning and value in life. Now doesn’t that describe the kind of people you want to have running the world when you retire?