Raising Resilient Children

February 1, 2021

We as parents and grandparents can help our children build confidence by teaching, encouraging, and allowing them to tackle manageable challenges. Researchers call this parenting approach "scaffolding." You tell or better yet, show, your children how to do something, and then watch and encourage them as they do it rather than doing it for them. This helps them learn the problem-solving process and find success through their own efforts. Small successes help give your child or teen the confidence to try new things themselves. Scaffolding also teaches children that nonjudgmental help is always available if they need it. Begin to think of ways you can use this technique with your children

To give our children the best chance for being strong and resilient you need to be an encourager and teach them to self-encourage. All human beings need encouragement. Encouraging your child not only keeps them feeling more positive and motivated, it also gives them an inner voice that will help them to encourage themselves for the rest of their life. Research shows that kids who talk themselves through difficult situations find it easier to master difficult tasks. Give your child phrases to repeat such as "Practice makes progress or “I can learn this if I keep at it”, help your child develop that automatic internal comforting voice to encourage and motivate them.

One of the most important things we can do is to teach children how to handle disappointment and frustration. Instead of automatically jumping in to fix it for them…encourage them to learn and grow through it. Say, "I'm sorry this is so hard, but you will get through it stronger on the other side. Or, "This isn't how you hoped it would turn out, but let’s learn something from it.” It's okay for children to get frustrated and to be disappointed. Once they're done grieving, they'll be ready to pull themselves together to try again the next day, especially when you express your confidence in them. That's how children develop resilience.


-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center

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