Resilience and persistence

If you have a resilient child, they will likely recover very quickly from life’s knock backs and either shrug it off or have another go. A child lacking resilience on the other hand, will become stressed when faced with a challenge. They may get upset for example, if they can’t do their maths homework or cry if other children offend them. A consequence of a lack of resilience is that a child may feel isolated or incapable. So for example, if they find a task too difficult they will give up and may begin to intensely dislike it.

Persistence is a refusal to give up even when the going gets tough. In an ideal world all our lovely children would be persistent and tackle challenges with enthusiasm and doggedness. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case so what can a parent do to encourage resilience and persistence.

 Babies to 3 years

A very young child has so much to learn about the world and desperately needs good role model behaviour from the adults around them. They need to feel nurtured, secure and to be able to trust the adults in their life.

  • Use plenty of praise for accomplishments, however small.
  • Enforce rules by using positive behaviour strategies – i.e. using rewards and using punishments or sanctions that do not harm or belittle the child.
  • Use plenty of encouraging words and support.
  • Show unconditional love.

 4 to 7 years

At this age children are busy engaging with their world through play and first-hand experiences. They may have difficulty separating reality and fantasy and have imaginative and enquiring minds. To help develop resilience and persistence apply the steps for babies (above) but also:

  • Encourage independence by allowing your child to do things without adult help and praising them when they do.
  • Encourage them to be self aware of their feelings, temperament and behaviour and how their actions can affect other people.
  • Gradually expose them to challenges and adversity and discuss strategies for dealing with difficult situations.

 7 to 11 years

At this age, children want to be successful achievers. They have a desire to get things right to please teachers or parents and to fit in with their peers. Pride and a sense of achievement is important at this age. If a child experiences teasing or failure they may doubt their own worth and their self-esteem can plummet. In addition to the above pointers for younger children adults can help their 7-11 year old by:

  • Giving them opportunities to succeed in as many activities as possible, but also encouraging and guiding them through things that by be more difficult.
  • Communicating the desirable outcomes of succeeding in a challenging task e.g. if you work hard on this tricky homework, you will feel a sense of achievement, you will feel proud of what you have done and you can show off your good work to your classmates.
  • Letting your child know that independently dealing with challenges is great, but they can always seek your help, guidance and reassurance if things get too difficult.

Remember, your little one will have good and bad experiences as they journey through their childhood. There is only a certain amount you can do about what life throws at them, much of it after all, is a game of chance. The most important thing you can do though, is give unconditional love, support and guidance to your child and model positive resilient and persistent behavior in your own life.