Resilience might best be described as the capacity to cope. We find this capacity in adults (Americans' resilience in the face of the recession), in governing bodies (Haiti's resilience in the aftermath of the earthquake), and even in Marvel comic book protagonists (Our resilient hero took on his twelve captors single-handedly!). But how often do we find, and foster, this capacity in our children?
An estimated two million teenagers battle depression each year. What at first appears to be an outrageous figure seems quite plausible when we consider the adversity that our children face on a daily basis: pressure from their parents, their teachers and their peers; hours of homework and test preparation; entrance exams, interviews and applications; and all things outside of school. Resilience teaches children to stand up to that adversity, learn from it, and ultimately become stronger because of it.
Following are three simple concepts that parents can practice at home to foster resilience.
Did you ever tackle a problem by becoming really angry at it? Resilient heroes didn't defeat the villain with a negative attitude. Try to keep things positive at home—both in your words and your actions. Rather than simply saying No, offer your child an alternative. Teach them to appreciate what they have and work hard for what they don't, and always remember to praise them along the way.
Encourage self-direction in children. Your eight-year-old need not prepare all of his own meals, but perhaps he or she can prepare a sandwich for lunch and help barbeque burgers over the weekend. Teach those good habits— like beginning their homework without having to ask them to do so, contributing to household chores and asking for help both at home and in the classroom.
Get Out of the House
A key component to resilience is the willingness to adapt to an ever-changing environment. So change the environment. On weekends, dine at a new restaurant with an exotic cuisine. Or pack up the car and find a campground outside of LA. The more willing you are to leave your comfort zone, the more willing they'll be to adjust to their surroundings.
Try these simple changes in your household. You will be giving your child the tools he or she needs to build resilience and face challenges with a positive attitude.