We all can develop resilience, and we can help our children develop it as well. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned over time.
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It may also be referred to as toughness. Resilience is an individual’s quality that allows some individuals to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Individual find a way to stand, go forward, and achieve their goal.
We tend to idealize childhood as a carefree time, but youth alone offers no shield against the emotional hurts and traumas many children face. Children can be asked to deal with problems ranging from adapting to a new classroom to social media harassment by classmates or even abuse at home. Add to that the uncertainties that are part of growing up, and childhood can be anything but carefree. The ability to thrive despite these challenges arises from the skills of resilience.
The good news is that resilience skills can be learned.
Building resilience — the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress — can help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. However, being resilient does not mean that children won't experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when we have suffered major trauma or personal loss, or even when we hear of someone else's loss or trauma.
Resilience and middle school children
Even without larger traumas, middle school can be an especially difficult time for many children as they struggle to meet extra academic demands and avoid new social pitfalls. They look to teachers and friends as well as to parents to make them feel safe.
Talk with your child about your own feelings during times of extraordinary stress such as the death of a loved one. Your children probably are old enough to appreciate some gray areas in your own feelings, but you should leave no room for doubt when you talk about how you will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. If your family does not have a plan in place for emergencies, make one and share it with your child so he knows that there are decisive actions he can take in an emergency.
Enlist your children's help, whether it's a chore or an opinion about a family activity. Include your children in any volunteer activity you do. Make sure your children know how their actions contribute to the entire family's well-being. If your children know that they have roles to play, and that they can help, they will feel more in control and more confident.
Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers (American Psychological Association)