Resilience is often thought to be an inborn or inherent trait. But did you know that through empathic parenting and meaningful guidance, it is possible to build resilience in children from an early age? Many find it surprising that teaching kids resilience is even possible. But, like other skills, the ability to be resilient in the face of challenges, can be developed with conscientious and persistent efforts. Teaching kids resilience will help them learn better ways to deal with everyday challenges.

If you are a parent or a teacher looking for some ideas, here are 10 effective ways that you can adopt for teaching your kids resilience: 

1. Let your child explore creativity and experience first time events

Creative arts are a great means of breaking the ice and opening doors to communication when it comes to kids. Allowing children to be creative with the choices, words, mediums, and their thoughts helps them learn the art of expression. Creativity helps break barriers and opens blocked emotions. It channelizes energies and fosters logical thinking as well as problem solving skills in kids. Creativity also lets children be open to experiencing new things for the first time and accept change. This in turn builds adaptability and resilience in the long run.

2. Set limits to inappropriate behaviour

Most of the time, parents or teachers do not know when to say ‘No’ to a child’s demands. Buying them everything they ask for, giving in to every request often leads children to believe they are entitled to always having their way in life.

It is important for adults to set limits and give clear guidelines when dealing with kids. Eating junk food on a daily basis, playing mobile games for hours together, temper tantrums at school, late homework submission, or late nights out with friends are a few things where you need to say ‘No’. This teaches children the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, as well as, ‘actions’ and ‘consequences. 

3. Stop fixing everything for the child 

When kids are facing a new situation – be it learning a new sport, joining a new school, or trying to make friends in a new neighborhood, parents are often tempted to eagerly fix things for them. You may want to play on their behalf, help them make friends, or talk to other kids to break the ice, but remember this only makes your child more dependent on you.

The best way of teaching kids resilience is by providing proper guidance and then allowing the child to test the waters to find their own path. It makes them self-reliant and confident in life.   

4. Encourage outdoor play

Outdoor play is very important for a child’s overall development. It offers multiple stimuli to the child and forces him or her to learn ways of coping with diverse situations. Children learn to bond with nature and their friends while learning to face small but unexpected challenges out of their comfort zone. Outdoor play is the best way to build resilience.

5. Sharing makes them resilient

It is very important to teach a child to share because sharing opens doors to communication.  Teachers can help children learn to share by conducting small, group activities where kids must share their belongings to complete a task. Parents can also involve their children in charity activities.

This builds camaraderie and team spirit. It also teaches the child that when in need it is alright to ask for help, as much as, it is important to share with those in need. 

6. Make them feel responsible

Give importance to the child’s thoughts. Listen to them carefully. When adults pay attention, children feel important, confident, and responsible for their actions.

Do not hesitate about giving small responsibilities to your child. Ask for their help with a younger sibling, laying the table, organizing the cupboard, sorting the toys, or taking the pet for a walk. Children who assume responsibility from a young age are undoubtedly more resilient. 

7. Encourage Initiative 

It is important to let your child take some initiative in everyday things. It could be the desire to suddenly climb a tree or help you shop in the grocery store. Your child may want to try out for a sports team at school or learn a new hobby. Encourage this streak of independent decision making.

Do not snub by saying ‘it is too hard for you’. Learn to be patient. Remember, failure today will also leave your child with a better sense of judgment tomorrow.

8. Solve problems ‘with your child’ instead of ‘for your child’

Building problem solving skills is an integral part of teaching kids resilience. Remember, when your child is facing an issue at school, in the playground, or even at home with the siblings, it is best to take an approach of solving the problem with the child, instead of, for the child.

Discuss the pros and cons and help your child break down a big problem into smaller doable chunks. Ask your child to list out the available options, brainstorm over the alternatives, evaluate the consequences of each approach and then come to a decision, which according to them will work best.

When you refrain from solving a problem for your child, you teach them to be responsible, think logically, and deal with the consequences of their decisions. It is a great way to teach self-reliance.

9. Playing is more important than winning

When your child plays, help him focus on the joy of playing rather than winning and losing. These are just outcomes; the experience matters more. When the child learns to enjoy the process, losses and setbacks will be easier to deal with.

Often in life, we get focused on the result rather than the process. We want wins to claim, but we ignore the journey which is more important because that is what teaches us vital life lessons. 

10. Encourage kids to ask questions

Kids, as they grow, have a very curious mind full of questions. It is because they come across many things that are new to them. Hence teachers and parents must encourage the child to ask questions. You may or may not provide an immediate answer, but never curb a child’s curiosity. Rather, ask counter questions like “what do you think this is?” and let the child come up with an answer. By doing this, you will foster inquisitiveness and creativity in your child.

Every child is different from the other and will react to situations differently. But it is important to create a balance between challenges and support to help the child develop age-appropriate problem-solving skills that eventually aid in teaching kids resilience.