"The main characteristic that makes people successful is not their IQ, emotional intelligence, or even creativity. It is their resilience in the face of what seems to be insurmountable obstacles." -Robert J. Sternberg
Every child can be subject to emotional wounds, no matter how fortunate they are. Whether it be in school, at the park, in a peer setting or even at home, there will be times when children feel frustration, failure, disappointment, criticism, rejection, anger, sadness, anxiety, unfairness, change, and exclusion from peers.
As parents, there are times when we wish that we could shelter our children from having to deal with these experiences. Not only is that not reality, it wouldn't provide the learning lessons our children need to become more mature human beings.
There will be times when a child is able to bounce back on their own and others where they need a loved one to help them navigate through and cope with their difficulties while fostering resilience. Just like when our children have an actual physical wound, we must care for their emotional cuts to ensure that they heal properly, rather than becoming infected and causing true damage.
Here are some ways that you can help your child build resilience daily while you connect with them at the same time:
1.Give your child a special time to talk every day.
Setting aside a special ten minutes of discussion time each day allows your child a prime opportunity to open up. The goal of this time is to not only listen and converse but to help repair misunderstandings and conflicts, find the bright side, and promote emotional well-being. There will be times when your child wants to share and others where they don't wish to open up. The fact that you save this special time just for them shows great effort in your intention to connect. It will come to be their emotional safe place.
2. Ask the right questions.
Open up the conversation by asking if there's something your child would like to discuss, such as an issue with a friend or at school, something they may be upset about with someone including you, or something they may be anxious about the following day.
3. Be an active listener.
When your child is speaking what's on their heart and mind, it's important to listen intently to what they are saying. Do your best to stay present and not allow your mind to think of what to say next. Thinking instead of fully listening can allow us to miss crucial points, such as what the tone of their voice or body language may be conveying.
3. Acknowledge their feelings.
It's important to acknowledge your child's feelings, which allows them to feel heard and understood. Sometimes this is all your child needs to move on from their emotions. It's equally important to give your child a specific word for their feeling because children often have a hard time labeling what it is they are feeling. Being able to label the feeling helps your child recognize what they are experiencing and connects them to how they are feeling.
Helping a child build their emotional vocabulary helps them not only at the moment but in the future. Some examples of emotional vocabulary words are frustrated, annoyed, anxious, embarrassed, guilty, overwhelmed, surprised, jealous, rejected, confused, irritated. and hurt.
4. Empathize with your child.
Give a scenario of a time when you had experienced the same feeling you helped your child label. This helps your child to understand they are not alone in their feeling. There isn't a person in the world that is completely excluded from dealing with challenging moments.
5. Affirm your child.
Affirmations are so very powerful. Letting your child know that you believe in them, are confident in their abilities, see the strength inside of them, and know they have the power to get past this situation is like fuel to your child's soul. Knowing that they have a person in their corner no matter what believing in them can fill your child with their own confidence.
Another powerful way to affirm your child is to say the affirmation and ask your child to repeat it. Example: " You are so full of strength. Say it with me, 'I am so full of strength.'"
6. Find the positive together.
Even in the most challenging situations, there is some type of silver lining. In the most challenging of them, it may simply be a hard lesson learned. Helping your child to find the positive challenges their mindset. Instead of being stuck in their challenge, they can see it from another perspective. And, because that perspective is positive, you can generally end this special time together on a positive note.
There will be times where the positive isn't able to be recognized right away. In that case, allow your child time to think about it and come back to the discussion at a later time.