If you've ever asked yourself how you can better teach your children to be resilient, to bounce back after a knock or be confident enough to overcome adversity then you're not alone says child psychologist Ian Wallace. Read on for Wallace's expert tips on how best to build resilience and self-esteem.
Before we start lecturing our kids about how we walked barefoot to school in the snow, going uphill both ways, let's see where any perceived problems with our children's resilience might stem from.
It might well be that we tend to indulge our kids in the home more, over-protect them from outside dangers, or that we rush to fix everything for them rather than encouraging independence.
Looking outside of the home for opportunities to build resilience can be helpful for example, engaging kids in team play and sport is a fantastic way to build resilience. By focusing on sport and play, kids learn a new set of skills including how to deal with challenges and the end results; winning and a heightened sense of pride, or loss and disappointment.
Playing sport encourages kids to attempt challenges in a safe environment; they have the opportunity to try and try again in a safe context where they know they need not worry should things go wrong. In simple terms, engaging kids in team play helps to instil the great Aussie sporting spirit otherwise known as “having a go”.
However, it is not just the outside-of-home effort that counts. In building resilience, encouraging healthy self-esteem is just as important. In fact, building self confidence underpins kid's resilience. So where do kids get confidence from? Positive research, through the McDonald’s Champions of Play Index*, showed that 66 percent of kids reported that they get more confidence from their parents than anywhere else. What a powerful, positive message for parents to hear!
According to the Champions of Play Index*, kids are impressive believers in themselves. The research shows that 97 percent of kids indicated that they believed that with hard work they could achieve all the things they want in life.
It's important that parents and adults don't undermine a child's self-belief by over protecting them; it is far better to encourage youngsters to have a go. Parents can make positive reinforcement part of their family culture by doing such simple things as encouraging toddlers to open drinks by themselves (don’t consistently do it for them, or worry about a little spill!). Similarly, don't worry about mistakes but encourage your child's attempts and help them find a better way if things appear to be going wrong. Lead by example; admit when you make mistakes and show children how to find solutions rather than focusing on failure or negative emotions.
Ian Wallace's tips to help instil "having a go" resilience:
- Allow your kids to have a go, don’t do it for them
- Reward attempts at independence
- Avoid over protecting
- Genuinely build confidence but don’t falsely praise
- Help find solutions after hiccups, try again!
Ian Wallace is a child psychologist, with a wealth of experience working with families and kids. Ian highlights practical strategies for issues such as responsible parenting, building resilient kids, fathering and boys to men transition, dealing with defiant behaviour and bullying. His book, You and Your ADD Child (now in its 10th reprint) has become the practical handbook for Australian families and schools dealing with the everyday problems of ADD kids. He co-authored the popular book, Coping With School.
About McDonald’s Champions of Play Index
* The McDonald’s Champions of Play Index research was conducted online by Lonergan Research in May 2012 with a representative sample of 1,004 Australian children aged 6-14, and 1,004 Australian parents aged 18 years and over from across Australia, in both metropolitan and regional areas.