With a 24/7 news cycle, an unstable job market and changing family dynamics, children are exposed to a variety of stressors in their daily lives. While today’s parents are more involved in their children’s lives than previous generations were, it is important to give children the tools to cope with these stressors in their own way. By fostering an environment in which children can grow and weather life’s storms, parents are giving a lasting gift and providing a strong foundation for their children to build the rest of their lives on. Here are four habits that build resilient kids:
Create secure relationships: Children needs a stable emotional home base, no matter what their family status is. Children implicitly trust their caregivers and caregivers need to provide a supportive environment where children can express a range of emotions. Pride, sorrow, joy, anxiety, elation: caregivers must support and listen to their children and let them voice the good, the bad and the ugly in their lives. If there are pressing issues, caregivers should offer solutions- even if it means calling in professional help. Children who feel “heard” grow into well adjusted adults who can identify and regulate their emotions.
Create the comforts of home- wherever that may be: Even if families move, or if children divide their time between two parents, children need the familiarity of home to relax and restore themselves in. Create routines, whether they’re bedtime stories, family dinners, or seasonal traditions, so kids have a comfortable environment to process their day in.
Give them options: One of the most frustrating aspects of childhood is that children feel they have no say in what happens to them. It is very important to give children some agency in their own lives so that they can learn how to make responsible decisions as adults. Once safety is accounted for, give your kid options- let them make small decisions about their daily lives. It’s practice for the real world, and it builds self esteem.
Let them branch out: It takes a village- and it’s necessary for children to create connections in the outside world. Sign your children up for activities, encourage them to make connections with trusted adults, and if your child is a teenager, encourage them to apply for an internship or join a mentorship program so they can start to bridge the divide between childhood and the wider world.