5.    Frame setback as a chance to grow

When trouble hits, Hyde says, parents need to let their children know that whatever painful emotion they’re feeling is legitimate – but also reassure them that they’ll bounce back. ‘When my husband died’, she says, ‘sometimes my kids and I would just cry together’. But she also tried to frame their situation as positively as she could with the thought, ‘“It’s going to sink us; things are going to get better, and we’ll be stronger and wiser for it”’.

It is in dealing with difficulties, Hyde says, that children begin to recognize their own emotional strength. ‘They build coping skills and when they hit another bad situation, they’re better able to handle it’.

Description: Frame setback as a chance to grow

Frame setback as a chance to grow

Weissbourd agrees. ‘I don’t want to romanticize suffering in childhood, but research suggests that the people who end up being most successful in life are those who experienced some adversity in childhood and learnt how to cope with it’. Weussbourd thinks it is important for parents to commend their kids when they are stepping up to challenges and reaching out ot help others, so they can take price in themselves. ‘When kids are handling adversity well or do an uncommon act of kindness, or perform an impressive of kindness, or perform an impressive act of community service, we need to say, “You really impressive and good thing to do”. This helps kids convert feelings of passivity and helplessness into those of activity and mastery’.

Decades of research have shown that people high in ‘self-efficacy’ – those who believe they can handle challenges and who are inspired by their own past successes when their confidence wavers – tend to remain emotionally stable (that is, resilient) through adversity. And when we can see the silver lining, hard times offer parents a chance to help kids develop grip, bounce and sense of competency that will see them through the years ahead.

Resilience Rules

Four simple moves that’ll nurture a bounce-back kid, from school psychologist John Scardina:

o   Give your child the reins

When your child is talking about a tough situation, let her finish, then say, ‘This must be really tough’. ‘Pause then ask, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ The key here is to show you are tuned in by acknowledging the pain she is feeling, but ultimately turn it back on your child to handle it.

Description: Give your child the reins

Give your child the reins

o   Cast a vote of confidence

As your child formulates a plan, give her a boost by saying, ‘I see someone who is caring’, or ‘…strong’, or ‘…good at x, y, z’. Reflecting her assets back to the child helps her realize she is capable of handling the situation, tough as it may be at first. Say, ‘I know you can handle this, but if you need help, let me know’.

Description: Cast a vote of confidence

Cast a vote of confidence

o   Create a gratitude list

Help a child going through a tough phase to count her blessing and cultivate optimism: have your family write up and post a gratitude list of five to 10 things to be grateful for. The message: these good things in life are here to stay, regardless of challenging situations. When your child is feeling low, remind her to look over her list.

Description: Create a gratitude list

Create a gratitude list

o   Call in the professionals

If your child has hit a rough patch and experiences sleeps or appetite disruptions or lethargy, or you notice a change in relationships with family and friends, it may be time to have a therapist step in. Ask your pediatrician, family practitioner, religious leader or school guidance counselor for references.

Description: Call in the professionals

Call in the professionals

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