How to Help Your Kids Build Resilience

It has been shown that resilience, or the the ability to bounce back after a challenge, can have positive effects. For some people, building resilience comes more naturally than it does for others. But why should resilience matter? Here’s how it can help:

  • Developing the ability to recover from challenges makes us happier and enjoy life more.
  • If you think that adversity makes you stronger (the ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ attitude), then you’re actually more likely to bounce back after a tough time.
  • Positivity begets positivity. Positivity helps us build resilience, which helps us bounce back when things are difficult, which makes us more happy, etc.

Happify is an app and website that focuses on building skills for happiness. Its games and activities help those who engage with it to build resilience. But as parents, what can we do to ensure that our children are developing tools that they will need in order to be resilient adults?

Many of the suggestions in a recent article focusing on Happify’s tactics can easily be adjusted for children, with a parent’s help. Here are a few strategies and points of view that you can discuss with your kids when challenges arise in their lives:

  • When your child has a tough time, encourage him or her to learn “to focus on and accept the present moment.” This is one way to practice being mindful.
  • Help your children differentiate between things that are their fault and things that are out of their control. In the case of the latter, it is important that they do not take things personally.
  • “Don’t assume that an obstacle in one area means a setback everywhere.” If your son doesn’t make the baseball team, it doesn’t meant that everything in his life is going poorly, or that he won’t make the basketball team or do well on his math test.
  • Explain to your child that the “sadness or disappointment will not last forever.” This too shall pass.
  • Getting plenty of rest also helps to build resilience. Kids, including teenagers, need a lot of sleep. Here is yet another reason to make sure they’re getting enough.
  • When your child is facing adversity, let him or her know that everyone goes through tough times – that there is no need to feel alone.
  • Perhaps most importantly, a parent must model strength for his or her children. Kids are most likely to develop tools for resilience if they see their parents engaging in healthy behavior after challenges or setbacks.