Some children grow up in stable homes with many advantages, but may still end up making poor choices that lead to problems with drugs, alcohol or other high-risk behaviors. Conversely, children from dysfunctional families can grow to become successful and productive members of society. In trying to explain why some fall and others navigate safely and successfully through the maze of youth, many experts point specifically to the quality of resilience, the ability to overcome adversity.
The American Academy of Pediatrics defines the key elements a child needs to deal with life’s challenges as the 7 C’s of Resilience. They are: competence, confidence, connection, character, control, coping and contribution.
Experts agree that one of the most important Cs is that of having good coping skills. Ideally, building this skill should be done when kids are young, but it is never too late.
Alissa Sklar, PH.D observed that her students with poor coping skills miss deadlines and class, blame others, and fall apart once the going gets tough. She notes that often these are students who, when growing up, had someone micromanaging their lives, hovering over them to pick up the pieces when things went awry.
Here are some things you can do to help your child become more resilient:
· Encourage your child to be physically active.
· Encourage your child to join a sports team or extracurricular activities.
· Encourage your child’s interests and hobbies.
· Prepare your child ahead of time for difficult situations he may face by posing hypothetical questions, such as: What would you do if your friends were all pressuring you to do drugs?
· Listen to your child with empathy and without interruptions, and judgments.
· Children often learn more by recovering from their social mistakes and by analyzing what they did wrong than by making the right decision the first time, so engage in analytical conversations about the challenges your child has faced or is facing.
· Guide your child toward solutions instead of supplying quick answers for your child. Let your child do the work.
· Encourage journal writing.
· Encourage speaking to a therapist when needed.