Kate’s Corner
Apr 21 2016

  Resilient Children

When kids are young, they have many opportunities to be resilient; to get back up when you get knocked down.  In early childhood this takes the form of everything from a new walker continually toddling over and falling to a new talker determined to get you to understand her attempts at asking for ice cream.  Opportunities to be resilient take the shape of not being chosen the 3 year old class line leader on your way to the playground, hurt feelings while learning about friendships when you are in preschool, or being a school ager overwhelmed by a busy schedule of homework, sports and just life when you are 10.

As adults we have the experience, support and skills of resilience.  We have all needed to get back up in many areas of our life over the years.  We know the importance of this critical ability and we keep learning.

Children don’t have that yet.  Challenges are big and it takes time to figure things out.

Karen Cairone, a recognized leader in supporting teachers and families in building resiliency skills in children, offers these underlined strategies.  I think they make sense, and are able to be connected to our work with classrooms and teams and can help families when little ones seem unable to see the other side of a problem.

  1. Model resilience… Children need to see adults in their world using healthy coping behaviors. Know your child, their development and their ability to understand problems and solutions. Never frighten or give children adult problems.
  2. Foster healthy relationships skills… model and talk about trust, loyalty, empathy and generosity. Create strong and loving family bonds.
  3. Teach self-awareness… Children need to be more aware of how their own actions affect others. Timing is everything here; very young children are very egocentric by development yet there is incredible growth in self-awareness during the preschool years and beyond.
  4. Focus on feelings… There is a feeling behind almost every behavior whether that behavior is positive or not. Help children label their emotions.  This language helps children feel more in control of their own feelings and behaviors and helps them understand others as well.
  5. Lead with strengths… A child who has many chances to use her strengths has more chances to develop confidence and healthy self-esteem. Meaningful and focused praise is far more important than empty or confusing comments i.e. Megan, thank you for organizing the shoes in the front hall.  Your matched pairs and lined them up by size.  Rather than Thanks good job.
  6. Provide healthy outlets… Have some spaces for children to retreat to for alone time. In a fast paced world this is so important to help children take a breath, refocus and learn to calm down and recharge.  Go for a walk, sit on the porch, read, listen to music, lie down, color or draw ~ very young children will need you as their partner, older kids are good on their own.
  7. Focus on consistency… When we provide a consistent approach to routines and transitions, we are helping children feel comfortable. Young children don’t like surprises.  Neither do I.
  8. Foster self-regulation. Again, timing is everything. It takes time and practice to get it right but using these strategies builds self-regulation skills which are so important in school, friendships, sports and community.
  9. Connect with children’s families. Know who your children are with.
  10. Be available… More than anything else, let your children know you are available when they need you. And they always will.