Although we often hear the overly used cliché, “When I was your age…” denoting the lecture that is imminent about how tough things were, we often don’t take into account that there are many ways in which things have gotten tougher over time.
Our children are exposed to many things that we were not exposed to as children. Twenty years ago we may have been worried about the images that were being presented through racy television shows, and the glamorization of certain lifestyles through their lyrical content. Today, not only do parents have to worry about the racy television shows that have become the reality shows, but also the influence of technology through the use of social media. Our children only physically leave school at three pm because they often remain connected to their peers 24/7 through the use of computers, tablets and smart phones.
The reality is technology is going to keep evolving and reality shows are going to continue glamorizing lifestyles that we would prefer our children not feel are the norm. So what can we do about this as parents? We can try our best to make them as resilient as possible and give them the tools they need in order to navigate through any environment within which they find themselves.
So what does a resilient child look like to you? In my eyes a resilient child is motivated, self-assured, assertive, confident, aware of their environment, happy and empathetic. These character traits are like padded walls that we can provide our children with in the hope that they will be ever present when they are making choices. Children and teens will at some point or another make choices that do not seem too smart. This is part of growing up, but as a parent, you want to do your best to build the traits that are going to help them to be resilient in their environment, so that when you are not there, they are confident in making the right decisions for themselves, or recovering when they have not made the best choice for themselves.
In order to raise a resilient child it is important to take the time to do so! Don’t assume that your child is going to learn all these skills by him or herself. Skills are called skills because they can be learned and they are not necessarily character traits with which you are born. Many of these skills are picked up through our environment. Children learn from the people around them. Children sense happiness, they sense confidence, and they sense empathy. A child with a parent that shows empathy towards others will likely do the same. This points to the fact that parents must remember that they are always being watched. For this reason, it is important to think of what a resilient child looks like to you and ensure that the example that you are setting as an adult exemplifies these qualities.
Raising a resilient child involves the understanding of the importance of the following three areas:
1. Build the Self: Ask yourself how you are working to help your child become self-aware. Being self-aware is an important part of building self-confidence. In order for our children to feel confident in themselves they need to be given the opportunity to explore to find their strengths and what drives them.
2. Build the Family Unit: With the hustle and bustle of everyday life it is easy to cut out the family time. Building a strong family unit is an important part of the puzzle. Although your child may not come and share all their challenges within the unit, having a strong family unit at home will make it more likely that they will, and will also provide them with the tools they need in order to tackle every day challenges.
3. Build the Immediate Environment: There are many things within our children's environments which we cannot control. However, there are some aspects in which we have a say. Take stock of your child's immediate environment. Expose them to the types of activities, people and experiences that you believe will help to build their character.