Promoting Resiliency in Children and Adolescents

Resiliency is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “the capacity to face and overcome adversity, to bounce back from challenges or difficulties, and cope and adapt to change.” This is an important characteristic for many children, but especially for those with mental disorders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 13% of children between the ages of 8 and 15 years had a diagnosable mental disorder last year. The most common of these disorders included ADHD, depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder. For help developing resiliency beyond the basics outlined in this blog, contact Prime Behavioral Health today!

Factors affecting resiliency

Resiliency in children and adolescents is affected by both internal and external factors. Internal factors include such characteristics as:

  • Self-esteem
  • Understanding of personal strengths
  • Understanding of limitation

External factors can include:

  • Access to supportive friends and family
  • Positive school experiences

Family and community influences can actively promote and enhance a child’s resiliency.  In fact, research has shown that early intervention and prevention efforts that promote supportive child-adult relationships, positive self-concept and self-esteem, and self-control for younger children help support their mental health and resilience.

Resiliency characteristics

Resilient children exhibit a variety of characteristics that allow adults to recognize increased aptitude in this area. Some of these include:

  • Heightened sensory awareness
  • High positive expectations
  • Understanding of their own strengths relating to accomplishments
  • Heightened or developing sense of humor

Ways parents and family members can promote resiliency

There are many ways that adults can help influence the development of resiliency in their children. This list is by no means comprehensive, but is meant to provide some suggestions and starting points for promoting resiliency in the children in your life.

  • Encourage participation in family and community activities to foster a sense of belonging and responsibility
  • Provide structure and predictability
  • Have a few simple rules and stick to them as much as possible
  • Help your child learn problem-solving skills, and encourage them to solve problems on their own.
  • Model empathy, caring, and an optimistic outlook
  • Model good self-care, i.e. exercise, nutrition, and sleep
  • Hold high – but realistic – expectations to help children see themselves as capable of high achievement
  • Help your child learn goal-setting skills, and praise their accomplishments
  • Involve your child in helping others, such as volunteering together in your community
  • Provide social support from other adults, like grandparents, aunts and uncles, and godparents
  • Help your child see mistakes and disappointments as learning opportunities
  • Encourage participation in after-school or community clubs, groups, and activities
  • Communicate and work collaboratively with teachers and other adults to support your child’s development

Specifically for adolescents, research has shown that individual close friendships are highly important. Additionally, caring relationships with adults, a sense of control, proactivity, and decision-making opportunities are important for adolescent resiliency.

Looking forward

While no one can protect children and adolescents from all of life’s hardships and challenges, there are many things we can do to help our children grow into prepared, capable adults. How to successfully handle and cope with challenges is one of the greatest skill sets we can teach to our children. Resiliency is one of the most-overlooked growth areas in modern parenting; help your children get set for success today!

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