How ideal would it be to live in a world free from bullying, peer pressure, disease, death, poverty, crime, divorce/separation and war. Unfortunately, shielding children from adversity is purely impossible, yet, as parents, it is a natural behaviour to want to protect them.
Although “the cotton wool” approach sounds ideal, it may prevent our children from being exposed to challenges or learning how to cope with tough situations. Change is an everyday part of life, and helping children to cope with change is an integral part of an adult’s role.
We spoke to one of Australia’s leading parenting experts, Dr Justin Coulson in this months newsletter and he gave us some practical advice for parents on raising resilient children.
We are also offering an incentive for the first 9 people that attend a tour of their local Explore & Develop service, will receive a copy of Dr Justin Coulson’s book “9 Ways to a Resilient Child”.
“More than anything, we raise resilient kids by building strong relationships together, helping them know they matter more than we can say, and letting them know that whatever happens, we’re always going to be there for them.”
Dr Justin Coulson
So how do we help our children to become resilient?
In 2014 Andrew Fuller, one of Australia’s well-known child and adolescent psychologists, ran a study about resilience with approximately 16,000 Australian youth. The children who were most resilient almost universally agreed with two statements that children with the lowest resilience disagreed with. They were:
- I have a parent who cares about me
- I have a parent who listens to me
What made you feel cared about as a child? When did you feel listened to? And most important, how did feeling cared about and heard make you feel?
Here is a list of things you might be able to do, starting today, to help your children feel cared for and heard.
1. Stop saying “I’m busy
There is an old quote that “To a child, LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E.”
When we are too busy for our children, or when we are rushing them, they suffer. They withdraw. They miss out on opportunities to connect with us.
2. Turn off your smartphone and screens
Make certain parts of the day screen-free. No TV. No tablets. No phones. Just a focus on the people in front of you. Perhaps it might be at meal time. Maybe it could be while you travel. When you decide to do it is less important than making the decision.
3. Make eye contact and listen
When your children want to connect and communicate with you, pause what you are doing and look them in the eyes. Physically turn towards them and pay attention. When children come to you with problems, listen and when they are finished, ask, “What do you think you should do?” and listen again. Usually that’s enough. You don’t have to solve their problems. The answers are inside them.
4. Bed time is best
Make the last ten minutes of the day a precious bonding time with your children. Try it. Our children need to go to sleep feeling secure, loved, and hopeful about the day to come.
5. Give hugs, and touch them
It is a recognition that you have seen and noticed your child and it feels nice to be noticed. Plus, research shows it can boost wellbeing.
6. Stay calm
When we stay calm, our children learn to regulate their behaviour. They learn we are stable, secure, predictable, and safe. They learn that they can come to us no matter what.
A smile says we can feel safe, and welcome. Our children need to see us smiling, especially at them.
8. Make time to do nothing
If our schedule is packed so tightly we cannot even find time for a conversation with our children, we cannot make them feel cared for or listened to.
9. Respond to challenging behaviour with maturity
When we remember that challenging behaviour comes from unmet needs, and we see that challenging behaviour as a chance to get close to our children and problem-solve with them, we build our relationships rather than tear them down.
10. Offer autonomy
While we do need to have rules and limits, our children will thrive, feeling heard and cared for, when we give them choices and allow them to decide for themselves wherever possible.
11. Tell and show them you love them
They need to hear those three words often. More than the words, they need to feel you love them. Show them as much as you can. They will grow up resilient, because they will grow up feeling cared for and listened to.
Don’t forget to book a tour.
The first 9 people to attend a tour of their local Explore & Develop service will receive a copy of Dr Justin Coulson’s book “9 Ways to a Resilient Child”.
Contact your local service to arrange a tour, but be quick as only 9 copies are available per service.
Want to learn more about Raising Resilient Children?
We recommend the following resources:
9 Ways to a resilient child. by Dr J Coulson.
WHY EXPLORE & DEVELOP?All Explore & Develop services are individually owned and operated by committed franchise owners who have been carefully selected because of their dedication, skills and passion for ensuring that every child gets a great start in life.