Parents want their children to grow up with the ability to face life, especially disappointments and risks, with confidence, and bravery. Children who learn resiliency are less likely to give up, avoid risks and become overwhelmed with anxiety and depression.
Kathy Koch, PhD., is a child development specialist and author of six books including RESILIENT KIDS: RAISING THEM TO EMBRACE LIFE WITH CONFIDENCE. She defines resiliency as “recovering readily from disappointment, failure, defeat, adversity, and trauma.”
She reminds readers that many children do not believe they can overcome negative encounters and this results in fear, anxiety and mental health issues. Resiliency begins as a choice, becomes a learned ability, and then matures into part of their character.
Koch, the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc., offers practical, relevant and faith-based insights and resources to parents and educators reminding them there is “no shame or blame for yesterday and great hope for tomorrow.”
In Resilient Kids, she instructs and inspires parents to understand the internal resources and external support children need to develop resiliency with topics that include:
o Embrace Life with Confidence: When children understand the difference between mistakes and failure and what causes them, they will confidently take risks and live without doubt and fear. They will learn from difficulties and will not give up or become victims. When parents are overprotective, the children must figure out how to recover from disappointments and worse on their own (if they can figure it out at all).
o The Value of Facing Challenges: A parent’s goal must be to help children move beyond their negative experiences and eventually benefit from them. Children build strength, character and confidence in God through challenges. Teaching them and walking with them through experiences will cause growth and build trust and strength.
o Children’s Five Core Needs: Children will be resilient and embrace life when they are secure, like their identity, have solid belonging, are purposeful, and feel competent. When these needs aren’t met, they are less likely to be resilient. Parents can help children meet these needs through presence, talking, and listening, rather than analyzing or judging them.
o Helping Your Child Get Unstuck: Be available and show them attention. Help them understand what they can control, the power of negative self-talk and the importance of asking for help when they feel overwhelmed, and confused or have made a mistake. Give them more positive than negative feedback and specific compliments.
o Spiritual Resiliency: To ensure more than a head knowledge, teach the names and attributes of God and how to depend on Him through disappointment and pain. Parents should model a relationship with God, rather than a rule-based religion. Model and teach that church, prayer, scripture memorization, worship, and other disciplines are important because of our relationship with Christ not because we look good by doing them.
Through her writing and speaking, Koch helps parents recognize their own weaknesses and insecurities so they can identify their children’s vulnerabilities and strengths. They can guide their children to be courageous, confident and resilient.
“You are not raising children; you are raising adults. Children experience disappointments, stress, and a variety of challenges and with positive experiences, they become resilient,” says Koch. “Resilient people do not let problems and challenges control them. They understand that negative experiences are opportunities to learn and mature and that growth takes time.”
Growth isn’t the only advantage to resiliency. It results in creative problem-solving, mature behaviour, complete character, long-lasting relationships and a sense of control when hard emotions or negative reactions arise. For example, they can still function while angry and anxious.