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Day 3: Building Resilience in Children; Problem Solving Skills

All kids encounter stress of varying degrees as they grow up and as a parent, as much as we want to, we know we can’t protect them from everything in life. Kids get sick, move to new neighborhoods, encounter bullies, take tests, cope with grief, lose friends, deal with divorce; just to name a few. These obstacles might seem small in the eyes of an adult, but they feel large and all consuming to kids.

Teaching your kids how to problem solve early on in life, enables them to learn strategies to work through challenges and cope with stress throughout their lives. Problem solving is vital and a part of building resilience. It’s not something that kids either have or don’t have; it’s a skill that kids develop as they grow.

There are many ways we can help kids learn to problem solve and you can do this right at home. Kids need to experience challenges so that they can learn to work through it and develop their own problem-solving skills. Without this skill set in place, kids will experience anxiety and shut down in the face of adversity. Below are some ways you can help your children with this skill and help them in building their resilience.

  • Build a Strong Emotional Connection: In this busy world this is a lot easier said than done but it's vital to spend 1-1 time with each of your kiddos. By setting aside even 10 minutes to listen about their day, or look through the work your kiddos bring home from school. You'd be amazed at how this can make a huge difference and go a long way in connecting. Make sure to show interest and be present in the moment with them.

  • Encourage Healthy Risk-Taking: What’s a healthy risk? Something that pushes a child to go outside their comfort zone, but results in very little harm if they are unsuccessful. Examples include trying a new sport, participating in the school play, or striking up a conversation with a shy peer. When kids avoid risk, they internalize the message that they aren’t strong enough to handle challenges. When kids embrace risks, they learn to push themselves.

  • Don't jump to fix things: When kids come to parents to solve their problems, the natural response is to want to jump in and fix it ourselves. A better strategy is to ask questions. By bouncing the problem back to the child with questions, the parent helps the child think through the issue and come up with solutions.

  • Teach Problem-Solving Skills: We all need help sometimes, and it’s important for kids to know they have help. By brainstorming solutions with kids, parents engage in the process of solving problems. Encourage kids to come up with a list of ideas and weigh the pros and cons of each one.

  • Embrace Mistakes—Theirs and Yours Failure avoiders lack resilience. In fact, failure avoiders tend to be highly anxious kids. When parents focus on end results, kids get caught up in the pass/fail cycle. They either succeed or they don’t. This causes risk avoidance. Embracing mistakes (your own included) helps promote a growth mindset and gives kids the message that mistakes help them learn. It can be helpful to talk about a mistake you made and how you recovered from it.

  • Look on the Bright Side—Every experience has one. Optimism and resiliency go hand in hand. Some kids may appear more naturally optimistic than others, but optimism can be nurtured. If you have a mini pessimist on your hands, acknowledge the feelings that lead to pessimistic thinking and teach your child to find the positives in all situations.

  • Go Outside: Exercise helps strengthen the brain and make it more resilient to stress and adversity. While team sports are the most popular method of consistent exercise for kids, all kids really need is time spent outdoors engaging in a physical activity.

Resilience helps kids navigate through stressful situations. When kids have the skills and the confidence to confront and work through their problems, they learn that they have what it takes to confront difficult issues. The more they bounce back on their own, the more they internalize the message that they are strong and capable! Here's to raising strong, resilient kiddos!!


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