July 29, 2020

Building Resilience in Children & Families

Building resilience — the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress — can help children manage stress and feelings of anxiety.

Amid the financial uncertainty, worries for health and safety, and other stressors cause by the COVID-19 pandemic, resiliency is more important than ever. Building resilience in children can help them navigate these unprecedented times, and will create long-lasting coping mechanisms for future challenges they may face.

So how do we build resiliency within our own families? A combination of supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building, and positive experiences is the foundation of resilience. The good news is that the capabilities that underlie resilience can be taught, as well as strengthened, at any age.

Create a strong support network.

According to Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. By providing a supportive environment with open communication and effective parenting practices, children are given a huge head start in terms of building resilience.

Embrace Mistakes

Those who avoid mistakes often lack resilience. Make sure your child knows that mistakes are okay, and present them as learning experiences and areas where he/she can try to do better next time. It can also be helpful to talk about a mistake you made and how you recovered from it.

Offer Opportunities for Personal Growth

Offer your child opportunities to engage in activities he/she really cares about. Age-appropriate, health-promoting activities can significantly improve the odds that an individual will recover from stress-inducing experiences. Regular physical exercise, stress-reduction and mindfulness practices, and activities that promote creativity and skill-building can improve the abilities of children to cope with and adapt to adversity in their lives.

Teach Problem-Solving

Show your child ways to deal with problems through both role modeling and encouragement. We all need help sometimes, and it’s important for kids to know they have help. Experts recommend brainstorming solutions with your children to promote open, collaborative problem solving.

Learn to Identify, Express, and Manage Emotions

Being resilient is not always about lacking emotional reactions, rather, it’s about managing and responding to emotions in a healthy and positive way. You can help your child properly manage their emotions by asking open-ended questions, encouraging your child to talk about how they feel, and acknowledging if they are in distress.

Promote Optimism

Optimism is a key component to resiliency. While some children may be naturally more optimistic than others, optimism is something that can be nurtured. A first step towards building positive thinking is to acknowledge the feelings that lead to pessimistic thinking and teaching your child to reframe their thoughts to find the positive.

Especially now as we face a global pandemic and families are encountering many new challenges, Cascadia is here to help navigate emotional or behavioral health concerns. To learn more about the services Cascadia offers to children and families, we encourage you to call (503) 674-7777, Monday-Friday from 10 AM – 5 PM.