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Published on September 22, 2020

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Helping Kids Develop Grit and Resilience

As parents we want to see our children succeed.

A big part of teaching our kids to succeed involves letting them be frustrated or fail. Sometimes in an effort to protect our kids we shelter them from important life lessons. Life will have ups and downs we can’t protect our kids from, we need to give them skills to cope with those stressors. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

It is important for kids and teens to have skills to cope with stress, to be able to recover from setbacks and to be able to plan for the future. In order to succeed in life kids have to be resilient, to have some grit. Grit is described as passion and perseverance to achieve ones goals. Grit has been found to be as important to school success as IQ.

How can we teach our kids to be resilient in the face of hardships or stressful situations? What kind of skills can increase a child’s determination to complete a goal that is hard for them to achieve?

Tips to Help Your Child Persevere

  • Encourage competency by focusing on children’s strengths and empowering them to make decisions
  • Don’t compare siblings. Recognize that each child has different strengths.
  • Provide honest and sincere praise. Praise the child’s effort and not just the end result.
  • Nourish strong bonds with your child, make sure they know they can come to you and discuss frustrations or anxiety. Stay connected as a source of support.
  • Encourage them to be a part of the community and show them that their behavior affects others. By helping others, it may help them feel empowered.
  • Model positive coping skills when dealing with stress or frustration in your life.
  • Focus on your child’s strengths to increase their confidence.
  • Teach them to start small when dealing with a problem.
  • Train them to see a challenge as a lesson they can learn from.
  • Help your child plan ahead. Show them how to use a calendar to plan, create to-do lists, give them the tools to create a long-term plan to reach their goals.
  • Provide your child with challenging activities that aren’t easy for them. It is good for kids to learn to work through frustration.
  • Don’t always provide your child with the answer, help them problem solve and work through the situation.
  • Encourage them to take healthy risks such as trying out for the school play or trying a new sport.
  • Help them label feelings and emotions, it is much easier to cope with jealousy or anxiety if you know how to describe what you are feeling.
  • Encourage coping skills for dealing with stress such as deep-breathing exercises.
  • Let kids know that it is OK to fail or make mistakes. Help your child to grow from these experiences.
  • Promote optimism, teach your child to see the good in a difficult situation.
  • Cultivate a belief in their ability to cope.

Teaching our kids to have grit and resilience could be one of the best tools we give them. Having the ability to keep going when you begin to feel frustrated or overwhelmed can help you succeed in many aspects of life.

We can’t eliminate all the stress and challenges in our kids’ lives but we can give them the skills and tools to cope with these challenges in a positive way. As a parent you play an important role in helping your child learn to adapt to whatever comes their way.

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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