What Resilience is and Why Our Kids Need It


teaching resilience

None of us wants our kids to go through difficulty. Our natural instinct as parents is to cushion our children from pain and keep them from hardship. But our kids won’t escape adversity in life, so they need resilience in order to endure it. Resilience is the ability to respond well to difficulty, pain, and stress. But it isn’t something you’re born with—it’s something you develop.

And your kids don’t have to wait until they face adversity to develop it. Resilience is “something we can build long before we face any kind of tragedy or difficulty,” said author and management professor Adam Grant, who helps teach a LinkedIn course on resilience. Instead of sheltering our children from difficulty, we should be teaching resilience.  Here’s how.

 1. Build a strong family.

Make your family a place where love reigns—between you and your spouse, between parents and kids, and between siblings. Make home a place of forgiveness and trust. Have regular family dinners at the table, make and keep routines, help your children know their importance in the family, uphold family traditions, and stand against the culture on the character you’ve determined is important in your family.

2. Make family a safe place.

When children experience adversity and stress, they need the family to be a safe place to land. Stop and listen to your children when they want to talk. Assure them of your help and love. Ensure confidentiality between siblings so that conversations and difficulties aren’t leaked outside the family.

3. Help your children navigate fear and change.

Listen when your children express fear or resistance to change. Discern the difference between their rational and irrational fears while assuring them that you always will do everything you can to keep them safe. Talk about your own experiences with fear and change and how you overcame it. Be sensitive to their emotions while also encouraging them to take affirmative steps forward.

4. Remove negativity and focus on the positive.

Children may need breaks from social media, news coverage, or even friend groups to process emotions and thoughts. As your child faces difficulty, focus on the hope in each situation, the lessons to be learned, and the character-shaping that happens in adversity.

5. Create a strong worldview.

Children will filter difficulty and pain through their worldviews. If you don’t help your children create a strong worldview, the social media or school or peers around them will. In our home, we’ve taught our kids about faith and God since they were little, creating a strong worldview by praying with them, reading the Bible together, and attending a church.

In what ways have you built resilience in your kids?

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