Research has shown that resilience helps children better face disappointment, cope with loss, and adapt to change. Studies have shown that this life skill not only helps their childhood and teen years go more smoothly, but can serve them throughout their entire lives by providing better physical and mental health, making them more likely to graduate from college, and receiving better-paying jobs.
Often, children who succumb to illicit drug or alcohol abuse lack this key quality. If they’re not taught to cope with hardship, adversity, and stressors, they may see only one way to relieve the pressure: the easy escape.
We’ve seen this during the coronavirus pandemic, as rates of domestic violence, mental health problems, and substance abuse—especially opioid addiction—have soared since the spring.
Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child reports, “The single most-common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
It goes on to explain: “These relationships . . . build key capacities—such as the ability to plan, monitor, and regulate behavior—that enable children to respond adaptively to adversity and thrive.”
Experts offer these tips on fostering resilience in children:
- Don’t swoop in to solve their problems for them. Instead, help them reach their own conclusions about the best way to face a stressful situation.
- Teach them coping skills, such as quiet time for reflection, deep breathing, and exercise to release anger and frustrations.
- Be willing to let them fail. Afterward, explore how things might have gone differently, and what they could do in a similar situation in the future.
- Encourage them to ask for help when they need it. Stress that recognizing they need help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence.
- Teach them perspective, that “all things pass.” Share stories of people they know—including yourself—as well as famous people who have overcome adversity.