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8 Tips to Foster Resilience in Your Kids

8 Tips to Foster Resilience in Your Kids

Growing up, my mother always told me that life wasn’t fair.  Aside from the truth that Jesus loves me, this may have been one of her greatest gifts to me.

It seems that so much energy is wasted trying to make every aspect of every moment “fair” for our children that we never teach them how to become resilient human beings, to develop an internal reservoir of strength and determination that will enable them to overcome the inevitable obstacles that life will bring.

Resilience is a quality that helps us not only manage stress in our lives, but motivates and energizes us toward achieving our goals and living our dreams.  The APA defines resilience as, “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” It is the ability to "bounce back" from difficult experiences.

Giving our children the belief that life “should” be fair only cripples them from focusing on their strengths or their goals, and leaves them feeling helpless to achieve their hopes and dreams in life. What’s more, it prevents them from ever growing a sense of self that comes from accomplishing difficult tasks and replaces an excitement about the future with an anxious uncertainty about the next step ahead.  No wonder our children don’t want to leave home!

We can change the course for our children’s lives and our own lives. We can foster resilience in all areas of life. We first have to let go of needing life to be fair.

There are eight ways we can begin instilling resilience in our children.

1. Teach them to nurture themselves. Developing the practice of nurturing ourselves can keep our mind and body not only calm, but prepare us to deal with whatever situations come our way. We can teach our children how to have quiet “me-time” without earbuds or technology, so they can learn to care for themselves well, learn to connect with their emotions, and sort through their day.

2. Encourage them to cultivate a positive view of themselves. This does not mean false praise, nor does it mean telling lies. We know the difference and our children know the difference. Developing confidence in our ability to solve problems and trusting our instincts helps build resilience. We can encourage our children in their ability to overcome, to solve problems and to figure things out without rushing to the rescue to figure out their problems for them.

3. Help them learn to keep things in perspective. Even when facing challenges or painful situations, trying to view them within the broader context of our life and our faith can help avoid blowing the event out of proportion and keep our focus on what we can control.  Helping our children see the big picture is significant.  When every problem seems catastrophic, life begins to feel overwhelming and outside of their control. Eventually, they simply give up.

4. Show them how to maintain a hopeful outlook. Having hope can change everything in life.  Hope enables us to believe that good things will happen in our lives, to believe that God is at work, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. We can instill a hopeful outlook in our children by encouraging them to look beyond the immediate circumstances to discover the potential meaning or purpose in them. Though we cannot force their faith, we can help them nurture, not just a religious set of traditions and rules, but a deep and meaningful relationship that will give them strength and resilience in the most trying of times.

5. Model for them the importance of building relationships. Relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. While we all need alone-time, we were intentionally created for connection.  Do not isolate.  Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Encourage your children to get involved in your church, school, and community.  Learning to serve others develops their ability to see outside of themselves and nurtures empathy and compassion for others.

6. Help them accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may not always be attainable as a result of adverse situations. We all have limitations.  We all have roadblocks, fair or not.  Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on steps you can alter.  Focusing on fairness saps our energy that may be more effective in looking for flexible alternatives.

7. Empower them to move toward their goals. When life seems unfair and we feel stuck, that is a great time to identify small steps we can take towards a goal and move forward. When faced with challenges it can be easy to detach and wish them away.  Instead, we can encourage our children that taking steps, even small ones will build forward momentum toward achieving their goals.

8. Nurture a mind-set of self-discovery. We often learn something about ourselves as a result of our struggles.  Those who have endured great hardship often discover a greater sense of strength and vulnerability, an increased sense of self-worth, as well as a more dynamic faith and heightened appreciation for life.

Letting go of the fairness trap allows us to grow a resilient, indomitable spirit within our kids.

We don’t need life to be fair for our children.  What we need is for our children to be strong enough and resilient enough to face whatever challenges come their way and be able to move forward productively, in building the life of their dreams.

How have you fallen into the fairness trap?  I’d love to hear your comments.

About Lisa:
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, blogger, speaker, coffee lover, and wife.  My online community, at seeks to provide a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships.  Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!  

In my book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace.  Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others.  Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long.  You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine.  You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow.  You can experience peace —for a lifetime!

I’d love to connect on Facebook: Lisa Murray, and Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray

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Publication date: June 9, 2017