10 ways to raise a resilient child
Written by Danielle Seah; Illustrations by Charlotte Chang
As revealed in the Youth Epidemiology and Resilience study (YEAR) by NUHS, adolescents in Singapore tend to experience an increasing volume of stress and anxiety as they grow older due to academic expectations and other circumstances. To keep these mental health symptoms at bay, resilience serves as a buffer to help protect their well-being. The study especially emphasised the significance of good parenting in building resilience and maintaining children’s mental health.
Based on the Singapore Youth Resilience Scale (SYRESS), Raising A Resilient Child is a booklet written by our educational psychologist Danielle Seah and child psychologist Kelly Lee as part of the project for parents to instil constructive coping strategies in kids.
From independent learning to social relationships, these are 10 ways you can support your child as a parent!
1. Emotional regulation
This refers to knowing how to manage your emotions, as well as those of others, while reacting to them appropriately.
Help your child recognise and express their emotions while giving them time to themselves. Practice active listening without passive judgment by acknowledging and validating their feelings before they are ready to speak again, e.g. “I can see that you are feeling angry right now. Let us talk after you have calmed down.”
It is important for parents to model appropriate emotional regulation themselves as your child would be observing how you react to situations, such as approaching an emotional situation in a non-threatening manner after your child has calmed down. This may help the child to be more aware of what may have been a trigger for the reaction so better control can be exercised in the future.
2. Personal control
Personal control revolves around a person’s belief on whether their behaviour and emotions and within their control.
As parents, it is important to teach kids how their actions may have consequences on other people. Making mistakes and learning to right their wrongs helps them understand the relationship between misbehaviour and its outcomes. In turn, this also encourages your child to use their words to communicate their intentions in the process.
3. Personal confidence/responsibility
This refers to one’s personal belief in their competence to effectively handle with situations.
When your child has learnt to do something new on their own, you can be there to praise their effort, regardless of the outcome of skill acquired. This builds confidence in their learning abilities. You can also encourage them to talk about their strengths and unique qualities during family time, such as performing well at their CCA.
Flexibility is a child’s ability to appropriately adapt to different situational demands in life.
You can encourage this by introducing changes to a regular routine and talking you child through the new ways to do things, such as adding new rules to an activity or doing it differently. You can also try setting small challenges for your child and asking them to come up with possible solutions that may or may not solve the problem.
Should there be some resistance, you can encourage your child to come up with their own rules too to make the activity more interesting or difficult.
Perserverance means remaining persistent even in the face of adversity.
Instead of swooping in and saving the day, you can let your child get tasks by themselves, while coaching or praising them if they seem to be struggling.
When your child whines about their inability to complete a task, you can add the word “yet” to the end of their sentence and encourage them that with enough practice and perseverance, they will be able to do the task eventually.
While the end goal is important, regardless of the outcome, it is just as important to recognise and validate the effort your child has put in and remind them that everyone faces setbacks, giving them hope that they can experience success as well.
6. Optimism/Positive self-image
Optimism refers to the hopeful outlook on a person’s future, whereas a positive self-image refers to a healthy image of themselves.
Reinforcing a positive self-image in children helps them understand that weaknesses and setbacks are but temporary, and in fact serve as learning experiences on how to make better decisions next time.
You can praise their strengths and positive behaviours, as well express your pride in their accomplishments to endorse their self-esteem.
7. Positive coping
Positive coping means coming up with healthy strategies to effectively deal with stressful situations.
You can teach your child problem-solving steps such as “Stop, Think, Do;” This means encouraging your child to stop and think about what the problem is, come up with several solutions for the problem and execute the best solution.
You can also share about your own similar experiences dealing with similar problems and how you coped and overcame your problems to give them some ideas.
8. Humour/Positive outlook
Humour and having a positive outlooks refers to maintaining a positive and joyous perspective of the world, as well as the ability to enjoy entertaining materials.
You can be a positive role model to them by talking them through bleak times and helping them see the good in situations, inspiring hope in them that things can be better.
You can also introduce your child to books with positive affirmations and optimistic quotes that they can draw inspiration from.
9. Relationships and social support
This refers to the emotional, influential, and educational help from friends, family and significant others.
Have meaningful off-screen interactions with your child, such as picnics, or joining a class together to learn a new skill. Small actions count too, such as showing interest in your child when they are talking and engaging in conversations with them, sharing about your day too.
10. Spirituality and faith
Spirituality/Faith refers to one’s connection to a higher being and/or their search for a meaning and purpose in life.
Be open to your child’s thoughts and expose them to a range of activities to help recognise the ways they feel at peace, such as through sports.
You can also encourage your child to feel connected with others through practising acts of kindness and volunteering. This teaches them to look outside their own lives to improve that of others.
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Lee, K., & Seah, D. (2023). Raising a Resilient Child. Mind Science Centre. http://mindsciencecentre.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Web-NUHS-NUS-Raising-a-Resilient-Child.pdf
National University Hospital. (n.d.). Speech and Language Difficulties (Children). National University Hospital. Retrieved January 6, 2024, from https://www.nuh.com.sg/Health-Information/Diseases-Conditions/Pages/Speech-and-Language-Difficulties-%28Children%29.aspx
Yeo Boon Khim Mind Science Centre. (2023). Youth Epidemiology and Resilience (YEAR) Study. Mind Science Centre. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from https://www.mindsciencecentre.sg/research/population-health-human-capital-optimisation/youth-epidemiology-and-resilience-year-study/