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Teaching Resilience

Life is uncertain, and in times of change resiliency is a life-skill that can help children of all ages survive and thrive. But where do youth get resiliency from? How can we help them strengthen this skill?

Resiliency in children does not mean they are left on their own to solve all their problems. There are a number of ways we can help youth navigate challenges and feel more in control. Now is a great time to help build and practice these skills.

Ways you can help build resiliency:

1. Allow for risk. Don't try to eliminate all risk and solve every problem.

This can be difficult - we naturally want to protect our children and provide the best for them. But if we don't teach these skills in a protected environment they will be much more vulnerable when on their own.

Age-appropriate skill building and the freedom to make decisions is important. Here is a great site that lists a number of age-appropriate responsibilities from toddlers to teens:

2. Don't dote. Children do not need everything done for them. Chores, responsibilities around the house are important skills that will help in future school and workplace. Allow all members of the household to decide what is needed to have a healthy, safe household and divide up the responsibilities equally. Allow everyone to pick chores each week and rotate so everyone gets to experience each task. For those that are too difficult for younger children, they can paired with an older sibling or adult.

3. Teach concrete skills. Chores and activities build skills. When students go off to school, get their first apartment, take their first job they need to have basic skills. Chores around the house at a younger age build skills in project management, housekeeping, laundry, sanitation; meal preparation and more. You can assign badges as skills are learned, and post badges on the wall.

4. Involve children in age-appropriate decision making. While there will be things that are not always shared with children (such as the stress of losing a job or the fear of being evicted),it is still good to share in a less-stressful way that these things happen. Sharing that money may be tight allows the entire family to problem solve on ways to help. Shared decision-making leads to shared responsibility and ownership.

5. Allow for mistakes. Any of us who have to make choices and decisions know that our choices may not always be right. We cannot be afraid to act. Approach each situation and outcome as a positive learning experience.

6. Model resiliency. Model a steady and rational approach to problems with a problem-solving mindset. Avoid talking in catastrophic terms. Frame solutions as working toward positive outcomes and celebrate those outcomes, no matter how small, when achieved.

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