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Family Health

‘Good Enough’ Parenting and How It Will Help Build Resiliency in Kids

Sep 17, 2019

One of the greatest attributes any child can have is resiliency. Personal resiliency is about our assets — the resources, attributes and skills that help us recover from negative experiences or emotions, cope with challenges and adversity and look after ourselves when things aren’t going well.

Building children’s resiliency is not some special, extraordinary thing that parents do. It is more about “good enough” everyday parenting and support in four main areas: relationships, emotional skills, competence and optimism. Here’s how you can help build your child’s resiliency assets in each area.


Relationships

• Eat meals together as often as you can.
• Schedule special time with individual children to do things you enjoy together.
• Show interest in your child’s interests.
• Be ready to listen when children are ready to talk.
• If your relationship becomes strained by conflict, keep looking for opportunities to reconnect in positive ways. Never give up!


Relevant Reading: How To Create Quality Time With Your Kids When There Is So Little Time


Emotional Skills

• Accept and respect children’s feelings. Help them express their emotions and try not to make them feel bad for feeling bad.
• Be sympathetic and comforting.
• Share positive emotions with your children.
• Teach the language of emotion. Use words to describe their feelings and your own.
• Help your kids understand their feelings and other people’s feelings.
• Manage your emotions as best you can. Your modelling is the most powerful teacher.


Competence

• Give children time for unstructured play. It helps them learn decision-making, problem solving and confidence in their own ideas.
• Encourage and support children’s interests. These interests develop skills and knowledge that help children feel like competent people.
• Use positive discipline that helps children understand the impacts of their actions and behaviour.
• Let them help you with household tasks like simple repairs, painting, window washing and gardening. This helps them build life skills that boost their sense of competence.


Optimism

• Gently (but kindly and realistically) challenge children’s negative thoughts.
• Show children alternative, more positive (but still realistic) ways of looking at negative situations.
• Model realistic optimism and positive thinking.
• Encourage respectful assertiveness and negotiation.


More Helpful Insight From The Psychology Foundation of Canada: How To Know If Fear Is Just Childhood Development Or A Mental Health Concern


Stress management: a key part of resiliency

Being able to manage stress is a crucial part of resiliency. Here’s how you can help:

• Learn to recognize the signs of stress in your child. If stress is a big factor, deal with that first, before you try to help your child problem solve or see a situation in a more optimistic way.
• Help your child identify positive coping strategies. Some stress can be reduced or avoided, but not always. Help your child figure out what works for them, whether it’s listening to music, physical activity, relaxation breathing or talking to someone who understands.
• Be supportive. If your child wants to talk about stress, listen without judgment before rushing to lay on a solution. Other small gestures of support, like reducing chores when your child has a big assignment, can reduce your child’s stress as well.


Problem Solving, another key resiliency skill

Teach your kids to solve problems using the following steps.

• Can the situation be changed? Help your child figure out what aspects of the stressful situation they can control. If something can be changed, the answer is problem solving. When it can’t, coping becomes the appropriate strategy.
• Chunk it. Breaking a large problem and solution into smaller chunks (with a timeline if needed) can make it more manageable.
• Consider alternatives. Brainstorming possible solutions shows your child that there is usually more than one way to solve a problem.
• Make a plan. What exactly needs to be done? Who needs to be involved? What preparation do you need to do? What’s the first step?
• Supports and resources. Who can help or offer support? (Hint: It might well be you!) Where can you find information you might need to solve the problem?
• Did it work? If your solution didn’t work, go back to step one.

Article Author Dr. Ester Cole and John Hoffmann
Dr. Ester Cole and John Hoffmann

Read more from Dr. Cole and John here.

Dr. Ester Cole is a psychologist in private practice in Toronto providing services to school-age children, youth, families and schools. She was the Chair of The Psychology Foundation of Canada and the Parenting for Life program, and the past president of the Ontario Psychological Association and the Canadian Association of School Psychologists. She has published and lectured widely, and has been active on committees provincially, nationally and in the American Psychological Association.

John Hoffman is one of Canada’s top parenting and child development writers. He has written extensively for The Psychology Foundation of Canada for 22 years, including web articles for Stress Strategies and Staying on Top of Your Game and booklets for the Parenting For Life, Kids Have Stress Too! and Stress Lessons programs. He was also a featured writer and columnist for Today’s Parent magazine for over 20 years. 

Follow The Psychology Foundation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and visit psychologyfoundation.org to access 24/7 A Resource for Working Parents.

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