Thursday, May 5, 2011

Top Ten Parenting Tips to Build Resiliency in Kids

If you are looking for our article about Helping Kids After Disaster, click here.

Two week ago we had an article how to raise resilient children. This week, we want to provide you with a Top Ten list of ways to teach resilience.

1. Be Empathetic with your child - kids need to be validated and understood. We are not saying you must agree with your kids, but it is important to acknowledge their point of view. When you are being empathetic with your children, you are also teaching them how to employ those skills in their life. This will help them in future relationships. Say things like, "I know you really want to have a cookie right now, but dinner is just a few minutes away." You acknowledged what your child was feeling, but still communicated a limit.

2. Communicate with respect - ask yourself the question, "How would you feel if someone talked to you like you talk to your child?" Would you be likely to listen to what they have to say? Regardless of how your child is behaving, they still deserve to be treated with respect. If you communicate with respect to your child, you are teaching them that even if they are upset or angry, it does not give them license to yell, scream or say mean things. You must model this for your kids.

3. Be flexible - it is important for you teach and model there is more than one way to solve problems. Be willing to listen to their suggestions and avoid power struggles. This will not spoil or overindulge your child; rather it teaches them flexibility. Given where you can and allow them to have some input into the problem.

4. Give undivided attention - schedule time in for your kids. Find 5 or 15 minute fun activities you can do with them. Any undivided attention helps a child to feel special. When a child feels special it will increase their self-esteem and self-image. Read here for more information about The Power of Parent Child Play.

5. Accept your kids for who they are - it is so important to the life of a child that you accept them for their personality and interest. Do not attempt to change your child if they are shy or quiet. It is okay if they do not want to play piano or cannot shoot a basketball. When you accept your child for who they are, you communicating that they have worth and value in who God made them to be.

6. Give Kids a chance to be helpful - kids learn by doing. If you want to teach your child to care for others and be compassionate, include service project, mission trips, or giving opportunities in their day to day lives. By getting them to think about someone else, you are teaching them the concept of empathy. Adopt a compassion child, give to your local children's home or serve together. They will learn responsibility and altruism.

7. Treat mistakes as learning experiences - avoid shaming your child for their failures or mistakes. Instead, let those experiences be teachable. Make sure to stay away from comments that put your child down, such as, "Your a bad kid" or "You always make mistakes" or "You never learn". Instead, focus on the behavior by saying, "That was not a good choice" or "I know you can do better than this". Then work with your child to brain storm how they could have handle it differently. You are giving them hope and instilling confidence in them that they can make better decisions.

8. Stress your child's strengths - make sure you are pointing out all the good things about your child too. Take this challenge: For the next 30 days, point out one thing your child is good at. It can be his personality strengths, abilities, skills, qualities, etc. Your child won't know what is going on.

9. Let your child solve their own problems and make decisions - if you want to raise a child who knows how to be a problem solver, you have to let them try on their own. By stepping in and taking care of their problems for them, you are communicating that you don't think they can do it. But by allowing them to fail sometimes and encouraging them to keep trying, you are communicating they can master the skill. You must show your child you have confidence in him before he can have confidence in himself.

10. Discipline to teach - the word discipline is derived from discipleship. Discipleship means to teach. Our goal is to teach our children how to live right in the world and to build them up so they can share with others. Use your discipline as a time to teach your child. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

Don't forget to read more about resiliency here and take the Resiliency Mind Set Quiz.

This list is taken from Brooks and Goldstein's Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope and Optimism in your Child (2001)