Raising resilient children
By Dr Asha Pemberton Gaskin | Sun, May 13, 2012 - 1:25 PM
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to completely shield our children from the ups and downs of life. Despite our best efforts we cannot prevent adversity and stress. In today’s environment, children and teens need to develop strengths, acquire coping skills, recover from hardships, and be prepared for challenges. They need to be resilient in order to succeed in life.
Today’s families, especially our children, are under tremendous stress with the potential to damage their physical and psychological well-being. This stress comes from busy, over-scheduled families, peer pressure, academic and extra-curricular demands as well as family discord and disruption. We can teach children and teens to be more resilient by changing they way they think about challenges and adversities.
This framework was developed by Kenneth Ginsburg MD., a paediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine. He describes the seven Cs of resilience.
Competence describes the feeling of knowing that you can handle a situation effectively. We help children feel competent by focusing on their individual strengths and empowering them to make decisions.
Build confidence by focusing on the best in each child, so that they too can feel and believe it. Reinforce and express their best qualities, acknowledging when they have done well.
Give praise when appropriate and reward efforts and improvements. It is important to have realistic expectations of children, so that they are not given challenges that exceed their ability.
Developing close relationships in family and community creates a sense of security and leads to strong and positive values. Help your child connect by creating a physically and emotionally safe home, where all types of feelings can be expressed. This allows children to feel more comfortable coming to you.
Children need to develop a solid set of morals and values to determine right from wrong and to demonstrate a caring attitude toward others. This begins with parents demonstrating appropriate behaviour and being a positive role model and maintaining this standard consistently.
Children and teens need to realize that the world is a better place when everyone does their part and gives of their best. Teach your children how to contribute by making opportunities for each child to give or volunteer in their own specific way.
Learning to cope effectively with stress will help your children and parents be better prepared to overcome life’s challenges. Guide your children to develop positive coping strategies and realize that simply telling them to “stop” negative behaviour is rarely effective.
Empower your child by teaching them that many of life’s events are not purely random and that most things happen as the results of another individuals choices or actions. Children who realize that they can control the outcomes of their decisions are more likely to realize that they are able to bounce back. Use positive discipline to show that certain actions lead to certain consequences.
Dr Asha Pemberton-Gaskin is a local Paediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist.
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