Using the Summertime to Raise Stronger, More Emotionally Resilient Children

Emotionally Resilient Children, mother and daughter laughing over tea

As a parent, it’s normal to try to help your children avoid any frustrating and stressful situations by clearing adversity out of their way. But, unfortunately, it’s neither possible nor realistic to protect them from all the ups and downs they will encounter in life. Nurturing kids by teaching them the strategies to deal with difficult circumstances from an early age will allow them to thrive instead of crumble in the face of adversity throughout their life.

We decided to share this topic, resiliency, as we have gotten feedback from parents who have attended our empowered parents workshops and have shared the challenges they face at home with their kids.

Resilience is the ability to recover from difficult circumstances. It is a character trait kids can build as they learn and grow.

“When they step into a situation, resilient kids have a sense they can figure out what they need to do and can handle what is thrown at them with a sense of confidence.” – Lynn Lyons

A model we find that can help parents with the difficulties they face with their children at home comes from Kenneth R. Ginsburg, pediatrician and adolescent specialist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). In his book, Dr. Ginsburg introduces the 7C ́s Model of Resiliency – Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping, and Control, which is a plan for helping children develop the skills to be more resilient.

Don’t have time to read the full book? Take a look at the highlights from Dr. Ginsburg’s findings that can help parents prepare their children to become more resilient before the next school year begins!

1. Competence:

Competence is the ability to do something successfully and know that you can handle a situation effectively. As the world is constantly changing at a fast pace, we don’t know what type of lives our kids will have in the future. We do know, however, that in order to adapt and succeed in whatever circumstances they encounter in life they need to develop some key competencies such as critical thinking, managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing in their communities, and using language, symbols and texts. Developing these skills will help them trust their judgments and make responsible choices.

How can we help children develop competence?

  • Empower them to make their own decisions.
  • Give them opportunities to acquire new skills by letting them explore different activities.
  • Allow them to make mistakes so that they can learn from them and right themselves.
  • Help them find their strengths.
  • Acknowledge them when they do something well.

What should we avoid?

  • Trying to protect them from every stumble.
  • Comparing them with their siblings.
  • Letting them think you don’t trust them or that they are not capable of handling situations.
  • Remarking only on their mistakes and not acknowledging their triumphs.

2. Confidence:

Confidence is the feeling of being sure of yourself and having trust in your power and abilities. This is not developed by telling your child how good and special they are, but by demonstrating competencies in real life and highlighting their accomplishments. When kids feel confident about themselves, they gain confidence to try new things and are able to cope with challenges along the way.

How can we help children develop confidence?

  • Focus on the best in each child so that they can see it as well.
  • Recognize when they have done something good.
  • Praise them in an honest and specific way so that they can believe it and it has more impact on them.
  • Encourage them to strive for goals they’ll need to work hard to achieve, but that you think they can accomplish.
  • Inspire them to fully pursue their interests.

What should we avoid?

  • Pushing them to take on more than what they realistically can handle.
  • Focusing only on achievements rather than on the actions and personal qualities they have developed along the way.
  • Over-praising them.
  • Telling them only what they did wrong without letting them know that they are capable of doing it right the next time.

3. Connection:

Family is one of the most protective forces in a child’s life. Showing them your unconditional love no matter what they do will make them feel confident. Empathizing with their emotions will make them feel understood, known, and loved. This emotional security will allow them to express their feelings and figure out solutions to their problems. Allowing them to develop close ties to community through athletic, artistic, civic, educational, and religious groups will create a huge sense of belonging in the world.

How can we help children develop connection?

  • Encourage them to form healthy relationships with others.
  • Build a sense of physical and emotional safety within your home.
  • Allow them to express all types of emotions.
  • Address conflicts openly and directly to show them the importance of dealing with problems rather than avoiding them.
  • Encourage them to be part of different social groups according to their interests.
  • Create family time to do different activities together.

What should we avoid?

  • Suppressing their unpleasant feelings.
  • Fostering unhealthy or unsupportive relationships.
  • Pushing them too hard to share their emotions.

4. Character:

Character is comprised of the way someone feels, thinks, and behaves. Although a good character is subjective and defined differently in every family, children must develop a solid set of morals and values in order to distinguish right from wrong. Character education has flourished at schools as educators seek to instill integrity, responsibility, respect, honesty, citizenship, caring, and other values in children. Nevertheless, family is primarily in charge of inculcating these principles in children

How can we help children develop character?

  • Tell them how their behavior impacts other people in good and bad ways.
  • Help them distinguish right over wrong when making choices.
  • Demonstrate the importance of being part of the community and of helping others.
  • Work with them to clarify and express their own values.
  • Inspire them to look beyond immediate satisfaction and selfish choices.

What should we avoid?

  • Exposing them to hateful or discriminatory statements.
  • Telling them to consider only themselves and to not consider others’ needs.
  • Making them feel superior to others.

5. Contribution:

Children must understand the world is a better place because they are in it. They gain a big sense of inspiration and purpose when they see their contributions have positive effects and that can motivate them to carry out actions to improve the world. Allowing children to contribute will not only create a sense of commitment but will also make them more responsible and will also help them understand the necessity of working with others and asking for help without feeling shame.

How can we help children develop a sense of contribution?

  • Encourage them to volunteer in any organization.
  • Ask them for help so that they feel useful and important.
  • Assign them household chores and responsibilities.
  • Communicate to children that many people in the world are not as privileged as they are.
  • Make them see the impact their contributions have.
  • Inspire them to look out for others.
  • Acknowledge their contributions.

What should we avoid?

  • Doing everything for them rather than giving them the opportunity to contribute.
  • Feeling bad for assigning household chores.
  • Giving them responsibilities they are not realistically capable of doing.
  • Generalized praise that fails to identify their specific contributions.

6. Coping:

Stress is present in every child’s life. Whether it is caused by a small frustration they experience during their day or hard circumstances such as bullying, parents’ divorce, or the death of relatives or friends, children must learn how to cope with stress to be better prepared to overcome life’s challenges. Teaching them to distinguish between a minor problem and a big crisis will help them avoid unnecessary anxiety, and with the help of strategies such as exercising, counseling, eating well, meditating, and sleeping, they can find stability in their lives.

How can we help children develop coping skills?

  • Assist children in distinguishing between minor problems and major crises.
  • Guide them through a step-by-step model for problem solving.
  • Encourage them to follow healthy habits such as exercising, eating well, sleeping sufficiently, and meditating.
  • Create good communication with them so that they ask for help when needed.

What should we avoid?

  • Teaching them to act impulsively.
  • Telling them to stop negative behavior without getting to the root causes of it.
  • Condemning them for negative behaviors.

7. Control:

Encouraging children to make their own decisions allows them to understand that each decision they make has an effect in their lives and that they have control of the outcome. Thus, it encourages them to make the right choices. Whenever parents make all the decisions for their children, kids may believe things happen to them rather than because of their choices. It is important to make them understand that they can make a difference; this will promote confidence and competence.

How can we help children develop control?

  • Make them understand that every action has a consequence.
  • Reward responsibility with freedom.
  • Recognize even their small successes.
  • Allow them to make their own decisions, like choosing their outfit, breakfast, movie, or book.

What should we avoid?

  • Making all the decisions for your children.
  • Trying to help them avoid the negative outcome after they make a decision that doesn’t work out.

It is inevitable that every child will come across stressful and hard situations throughout their lives. It is neither realistic, sustainable, nor healthy to protect them from all adverse situations, although it is very human for us to want to do so. Rather, parents should focus on preparing their kids to become resilient so that their children can overcome these difficulties themselves.

At La Jolla Learning Works we consciously consider every child’s needs in order to help them succeed. Through our numerous learning programs, along with our warm and qualified educators, we work with families to help kids set meaningful goals and thus build resilient character traits that help each individual child. By bearing in mind the 7C ́s Model of Resiliency that Dr. Ginsburg proposes, we can partner to help your children be better prepared to overcome any challenge they experience by teaching them to see each problem as an opportunity to grow.

Resources:
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Building-Resilience-in-Children.aspx

About the Author

Fernanda Barrera is studying Business Administration and a minor in Marketing at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. She is currently doing an exchange program at the University of San Diego. After a community service experience she had last year, when she was a 3rd grader teacher for unprivileged kids in Mexico, she discovered the importance and need of educational therapy in public schools in Mexico, as many of those kids had learning disabilities and were not treated as needed and thus couldn’t perform as they were expected to do. As an intern at La Jolla Learning Works, Fernanda has spent her summer surrounded by education specialists learning about the topic.

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