Resilience, or the capacity to overcome challenges in life and emerge as a stronger person as a result, is one of the most important personal resources an individual can develop over the course of their life. Building resilience can be life-changing for children in particular. Parents and carers can help to develop this resource in children throughout their developmental stages.
One approach to take is the ‘I Have, I Am, I Can’ model which can help to strengthen resilience in your children. Through this approach you can help children to identify their personal strengths (‘I am great at reading’) and the supports which they have in their lives (‘I have my teacher’ or ‘I have my best friend’) which can assist them in overcoming obstacles (‘I can pass my school test’).
Some young people who have followed the model have reported that it helped them learn how to cope, learn the importance of talking about the issues on their minds and learn to value their own significance in the world.
Ways in which you can help your child or young person when it comes to building resilience include:
- Help support your child’s physical and mental wellbeing, by taking steps including eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, making sure your children have the time and the freedom to play indoors and outdoors, working together as a family to get along most of the time and support one another and supporting your child in school. If you have concerns about your child’s health, you should seek professional support.
- Help your child to develop a strong sense of identity by valuing their unique attributes and accepting them for who they are at the present moment. Children who are comfortable with their identity ask questions and try new things. They know they can contribute to the world and make a difference.
- Talk to your child about their body in an age-appropriate way to help them develop a healthy and balanced body image and feel positive about themselves. Addressing questions and topics about their growing and changing bodies and feelings directly, at an appropriate time and in an age-appropriate way, can help to avoid confusion for children.
The challenges which can face children and young people as they are growing up are many and varied. Those who find themselves in a minority, whether LGBTQI, living with a disability, living in a country other than that in which they were born, identifying with a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth, or otherwise, may find that they have to overcome additional obstacles.
As parents or carers, how we express our emotions can give an example to our children. By sharing and naming our feelings, children in turn develop the vocabulary and tools to talk about how they are feeling. If children are aware that other people can get sad or angry – and that these feelings can be expressed safely – then they are less likely to feel overwhelmed.
This article was contributed by ISPCC on behalf of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. The ISPCC’s Childline service can be reached at 1800 66 66 66 (24 hours a day), by text to 50101 (10am – 4am every day), or online at Childline.ie (10am – 4am every day).