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2.    Hone their problem-solving skills

In addition to wanting to shield our kids from life’s hard stuff, it’s also parental nature to want to fix our children’s problem. But always swooping down with some form of plaster robs kids of an important worth opportunity. Feeling capable of improving a tough situation is a key component of resilience.

Description: Hone their problem-solving skills

Hone their problem-solving skills

So model this skill, advises Brooks, even in very small steps. ‘If finances are the issue’, he says, ‘parents can call a family meeting to develop belt-tightening strategies’. Encouraging kids to contribute their own ideas help them feel more competent and confident. And if cooking at home instead of getting takeaways is one new money-saving more, says Brooks, ‘you can involve kids by saying, “What can we make this week?” The more we encourage kids to problem-solve, the less overwhelmed they feel’.

3.    Mind your mood

Try not to worry out loud when children are within earshot. When parents voice feelings of despair, their kids follow suit, says Dr Janet Hyde, professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the US. ‘Kid who develop their own negative cognitive styles become more prone to depression than peers who have learnt from their parents to think more positively’, she notes.

Description: Mind your mood

Mind your mood

Though Charlotte Watters tried to be positive when she told her 15-year-old son that she and her husband were getting divorced, she was actually mired in rage after learning that her now-ex had been having an affair. ‘But I knew I had to model good behaviour’, she says. ‘I told my son I was strong and he didn’t have to worry about me. I’d say to myself, “what would a brave person do?” and I would try to do that. I was very conscious of pretending that I had a life – going to dances at the church or to the moives with friends. Both alone and with my son, I’d look for fun and adventure. In truth, it was the last thing either of us felt like doing half the time. But it turned out to be the right thing for us both’.

Waters knew she had to keep a lid on her emotions for her son’s sake. Research showing how attuned kids are to their parents’ feelings underscores the importance of her approach, Hyde notes. By adopting an optimistic attitude, Watters helped her son learn that we can, through force of will, help ourselves rebound.

4.    Keep them connected and engaged

Perhaps the most inspiring news about resilience, many psychologists agree, is that it’s more common than experts believed even a decade ago. Resilient kids, researchers find, are often particularly good at cultivating positive emotions by immersing themselves in strong relationships and meaningful activities. ‘The more capacities and connections you have, the less likely it is that the worst effects of traumatic events will permeate your life’, says a professor at Columbia University Teachers College in the US.

Description: 1. Keep them connected and engaged

Keep them connected and engaged

It’s true that for all kids ‘there’s a pint at which it’s not good to dwell on small everyday hardships, where you need to get outside of yourself and be says Dr Richard Weissbourd, a psychologist and a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the US and author of The Parents We Mean To Be (Mariner Books). For parents, this means that ‘fostering resilience has a lot to do with helping organise activities around both your children’s strengths and what they enjoy’, he says. The very act of belonging and taking care of others that naturally occurs in groups and in other organised activities creates what can be called moral reflexes that will provide kids with comfort and strength throughout their lives.

‘It’s certainly important for kids to know their own feelings, and for parents to talk to them about what they’re experiencing’, adds Weissbourd. ‘But we should spend as much time helping them understand other people’s feelings and learn how to care for other people, because ultimately, string relationships are the most important source of lasting wellbeing we have’.

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