How to Raise Resilient Children

Every parent, either consciously or subconsciously, wants their children to be happy and successful in life with regards to their interests and goals that are important to them! Too often this is easier said than done, especially in today’s world in which they live.

Savvy parents are always looking for ways to help their children academically and emotionally. In this article, I wanted to concentrate more on the behavioral and emotional aspects of the subject. Although I am not an expert in psychology, I have a lot of experience over 38 years of having 8 children at home. (Not all children were home for 38 years. Most went to college at 18.) We had 8 children over the course of 20 years and the youngest went to college at 18, so that adds up to lots of years and different approaches depending on the particular child’s personality.

I am a mature (older) Mom as you can do the math! Over the years, I have seen this aspect and definition of “resilient” children change considerably for a bigger percentage of children than existed when my youngest children were growing up. I’ve spent more than a minute thinking about why this has changed in our society. I have also seen this aspect in certain grandchildren depending on their parents’ approach to life’s happenings.

Again, I emphasize, I am not a professional psychologist, but my experience as the Mom of 8 and my psychology and human behavior classes in my business curriculum in college have added help to my evaluation of my children’s’ behavior and their wants and needs!

I would like to make a few OBSERVATIONS and perhaps some solutions, with regard to raising a resilient child:

1) Every child is different. I have noticed that my youngest son has a very emotional personality which lends himself to reacting to circumstances more and over evaluating situations. He is a mix of showing to be very resilient if he is motivated about a scenario and moves on the continuum to being less resilient if bigger emotional trials come his way. I think part of this is a mix of genetics and environment. As we as parents got older, we were a little less disciplined and “laid back” about situations that would present themselves. I think sometimes we provided too much of a safety net because it was the “easier way” for the older parents.

2) I think our very culture today and the fact most of us are living an easier life than we lived even 20 years ago very possibly facilitates a child to be less resilient. Our younger children in the millennial generation have lived different lives than our older ones. This latest generation of parents are prone to having more disposable income and feel they should “endow” their children with the best life can give! The underlying theme may be the pride of the parents and wanting to display to society they have it to give to their children. Nevertheless, this has been the norm more than the “other” way in previous years past. It definitely makes a difference in the final approach used by a child to cope with the adversities of life!

3) We live in more of an “entitled” society today whether people want to admit it or not. In the past, our society was totally more self reliant and did not wait for society or their parents to solve all their problems! It was just a “given,” most children born 20 years ago, expected to “earn” what they got and did not expect to be showered with solutions or money to solve all their problems. This one fact MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE in their environment. When a child has to “work” for something they want instead of having it handed to them without any effort or sacrifice, in the end, it makes a different person out of your child!

Some SOLUTIONS for parenting MAY help for current generations:

A) I am of the opinion, too many parents are setting the example that the government will provide a safety net should they run into financial trouble instead of responsibly handling their finances and expecting nothing from anyone else. It is important parents set the example of financial responsibility and teach their children how debt will stay with them morning, noon, and night! (student debt) This can start to be accomplished by learning that making decisions motivated by immediate gratification may lead to future problems and influence their children’s attitudes to “throw in the towel” too easy in the future. It does a child “good” to wait for something and put effort into earning what they want.

B) Don’t be the one to “protect” your children from all problems if they are not of serious consequences. If it is the first very cold day of the season and they do not want to wear a coat, let them experience the consequences of their decision and you will find that real soon they choose to wear warmer clothing. If they get in trouble at school for something an authoritative figures has given them consequences for and it is a fair matter, support the authoritative figure! In the future that authoritative figure they are learning to respect may be YOU! They will learn that Mom or Dad will not be to the rescue for all their problems.

I know of a situation where a child in his young teens started experimenting with drugs. He came from a family that loved and cared about him very much. When he was “hanging with the wrong” friends and would get in trouble with the law about little things, the Mom would immediately assume he was being treated unfairly and move to lessen the consequences for the child. They ALWAYS considered him a victim. The last I heard of the family situation, the young man was headed to prison for 5 years on drug charges. It was sad because his family loved him very much, but perhaps if they would have let him suffer some consequences for breaking into cars or other things, he would have learned his lesson early and didn’t have to go on to harder consequences!

C) Counsel your children what they may experience is normal in other childrens’ lives too. If they are “homesick” when you go out of town with your husband on a business trip and leave them with another family, let them know this a quite normal and a lot of other children experience these feelings too, but it is sometimes part of life. It doesn’t necessarily, by any means, require the child has to have counseling for this one situation.

Teach them if they break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend and they feel sad, that millions of other teenagers have had these sad feelings too. It is a normal part of the experiences that may come their way. Most everyone has experienced these feelings and that time will usually help if they “tie a knot” and hang on! Always keep an eye on their emotional progression in these matters.

Teach them that 24 hours or a week can make a huge difference in their situation and tomorrow may very well be a better day or week! Most situations are not written in stone in life. There is usually a solution to the problem if they give it some time. Set the example for them and show them how to do it through handling your trials!!

Finally, teach them about hope. If you aren’t a religious person, per se, you still may have hope in a “higher being” if you do not believe in God. This will add a ray of hope to the situation they think is not surmountable today. We are here for a reason and need to give life a chance to “play out!”

I hope this has helped someone look at this life with a different perspective!