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Give Your Child 4 Key Life Skills

Have you noticed that some children seem to flourish even in the face of adversity — difficult family situations, loss of important people in their lives, physical handicaps, learning disabilities?
And yet other children seem to see the smallest obstacle as an insurmountable stumbling block? What is it that makes the difference between these two opposite  reactions?

Components of Resiliency

Being able to triumph in the face of life’s challenges is called resiliency.

Resilient children:

  • Believe they have control over themselves and their lives, that they can influence what happens to them and can solve problems that confront them. If 9-year-old William does not do well on a spelling test, he studies harder before the next test, believing that he can do things to pull up his grades.
     
  • Are optimistic and see life as a challenge and change as an opportunity. When 12-year-old Emily’s family has to move to a new city, she believes that she will make new friends and enjoy her new neighborhood.
     
  • Are socially adept enough to get help from adults and peers when they need it and to establish close bonds with caregivers and others. 6-year-old Zach, whose parents are both drug addicted, finds comfort in his relationships with a caring aunt and a teacher.
     
  • Have a belief that their lives have meaning and that there is a purpose to their struggles. They are committed to goals they set and to the effort necessary to reach them. Thirteen-year-old Carly persists in a difficult project for her social studies class because she understand the importance to her future of doing well in school now.

What Can Parents Do?

The 4Cs of Resiliency will help you to translate these components of resiliency into coping behaviors in your children.

Connection. Be empathetic. Listen to your children so they know you understand their feelings and perspectives. They will learn that they can turn to you when they are troubled and will see you as a source of comfort. Empathy helps children develop compassion and healthy relationships with other people.

Love your children in ways that help them to feel special and appreciated. Offer unconditional love, letting them know that you cherish and accept them even when they make mistakes.

Competency. Enable your children to be successful by identifying and reinforcing their strengths. Encourage activities that they do well and enjoy doing, that bring them the praise and respect of others, and that lessen stress.

• Enjoy and celebrate your children’s accomplishments.
• Emphasize your children’s role in creating their own success.
• Recognize that strengths take time to develop.

Teach your children life skills. These enhance their independence and their ability to care for themselves. Help your children to find opportunities in the challenges they face. Teach them to address problems with a positive, “can-do” attitude.

Communicate to your children that mistakes are for learning. They will feel more confident, optimistic and be more willing to take risks, which is more likely to lead to success.

Control. Discipline in ways that create a safe and secure environment and strengthen self-esteem and self-control. Your children’s sense of responsibility for their own behavior and their own decisions will be enhanced.

Give your children opportunities to solve problems and make decisions. This will help them to believe they are capable and in control of their own lives.

Help your children to become skilled at coping with change. Since change is inevitable and can be a source of stress, your children can benefit from feeling that they can handle transitions. Give them opportunities to deal with change by introducing small changes in calm times.

Commitment.
Help your children to set and stick with goals. Encourage them to think about different ways to reach each goal and to persist even in the face of some frustration.

Promote an attitude of excellence. The attitude “I will do my best” will develop the habit of working hard and a belief that their efforts will help them to succeed.

Encourage your children to get involved in causes beyond themselves. They will realize that the can make a difference in the world in things that matter to them.

As you are your child’s most important role model, it is helpful to be aware of how you handle stress, problems and change. You can teach your children good coping skills by living them yourself and you can convey an optimistic outlook on life if you approach problems with hope and determination.

Audrey Krisbergh is a certified Parenting Educator and Director of the Center for Parenting Education in Abington, PA. The center provides education and support to parents.  215-657-5720, www.parentingedu.com
 

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