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I’m often asked what we, as parents, can do to strengthen our children’s resilience and become our children’s own “Resilience Coach”. Whilst there are no simple answers and no one size fits all approach, there are a number of behaviours that, if applied consistently by us, will likely shift the dial on their resilience.

There are many influences on a child’s resilience. These can be broken down into internal characteristics, e.g. a child’s personality traits, and external factors, e.g. their parents, family situation, school, community, etc. Of the external factors, a child’s parents probably have the biggest influence of them all. So, it’s important that we get this right – at least some of the time!

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Here are 4 tips on how parents can strengthen their children's resilience:

  1. Model resilient behaviour. Whether we like it or not, our children are often mirror images of us. This is because a big part of how they learn and develop is by observing us. So, one of the number one things for all parents to do is to model resilient behaviour. I know this is easier said than done for some, but next time you come up against a challenge that you need to overcome, press the all-important “pause” button and think about how best to respond. How would you like to see your children respond in a similar situation? What behaviours, good or bad, are they learning from you?
  2. Manage your emotions. This is so important! But what does this mean in practice? It means becoming aware of your emotions, naming them and, all importantly, acknowledging and accepting them. Only when we are aware of what is going on for us can we start to employ techniques for helping us work through these emotions. The same applies to our children and once we have familiarised ourselves with this approach we can start to teach it to our children. Wouldn’t you rather your children recognised the feeling of “I’m afraid and this doesn’t feel right” before they turn 17 and are invited joy riding with their friends?
  3. Show empathy. I know I talk about this a lot, but it really is critical. It links in with my earlier tip about managing emotions. There are 3 simple steps – be present with your child, actively listen to everything they say, whether it is verbal or non-verbal, and then play back what you hear. Importantly, this doesn’t mean you accept or agree with what they say – remember this when they are telling you how much they hate their sibling! It simply means you are validating what is going on for them – after all, we all need to feel heard. This is something our children need to be able to do so teach this critical skill to them too.
  4. Encourage greater independence. As parents we can easily rescue our children – we need to stop doing this and give them much greater independence. This can hep them learn new skills, experiment with different ways of doing things, build feelings of self-worth and more. Spend some time going through your child’s day, thinking about everything you do for them and challenge yourself – is there really no way your child could take this on? And when you do give them new responsibilities, show them how to take these on and then get out of the way – don’t step in and take over at the first sign of struggle. They might surprise you.

Keen to learn more? Sign up for our parent coaching – this is available in groups or 1-1.

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Suggested activity: Keep an emotion diary. Write down the major emotions you experience and when. How long do they last for? What is going on for you when you experience them? How might you behave differently as a result of pressing the “pause” button before reacting?