The difference between a resilient family and one that isn’t comes down to how well they get through the inevitable tough times that life throws at them.
Some parents are only interested in making their kids happy and do whatever they can in their power to make it happen. Sometimes, this means being overbearing, intrusive and sacrificing other people’s happiness in order to do so.
Unfortunately, this is not the correct way to raise a child, because not only will they expect everyone else to make their problems go away, but they’ll also never be fully equipped to tackle obstacles on their own.
In resilient families, parents do quite the opposite. They address the issues at hand with their children in a calm and collected manner. Then they use coping strategies such as empathy, crisis management, acceptance or even humour to manage it.
When raised in this manner, children will grow into adults full of grit who won’t crumble in the face of adversity. Here are nine phrases you can start using today to instil this very valuable skill in your child.
Video: Rachel Lim
1) “I’m sorry this happened to you, but what have you learnt, so that it doesn’t happen next time?”
Strategy: Positive thinking
Perfect for: Kids who think making one mistake marks the end of their lives.
Why it works: It teaches junior that life goes on after we make mistakes. More importantly ― that making mistakes are a part of life. In fact, your kiddo’s key takeaway from this should be that errors can make you a better person, but only if you learn lessons from it, so that you don’t repeat the same mistake again.
2) “You may be right, but have you also thought about…?”
Strategy: Flexible thinking
Perfect for: Kids who make matters seem worse than they are.
Why it works: Children are very emotional because for one, they’re not mature enough to regulate their feelings. When they have extreme feelings, they use extreme words to describe what they’re going through, such as, “I’m furious”, “I hate you” or “This is a disaster”. Over-the-top language leads to over-the-top actions, so dial back the drama by encouraging them to see it from a different perspective. Once they see things more realistically, they are unlikely to blow things out of proportion.
3) “Sounds terrible and I’m sorry you feel this way, but it’s not the end of the world.”
Strategy: Maintaining the right perspective
Perfect for: Kids who blow things out of proportion.
Why it works: Exaggerating a situation will only increase a person’s anxiety. The more they do it, the more it becomes habitual. Once you challenge junior’s view that it’s not the worst thing to happen to him, he’ll realise it’s probably true and find the silver lining.
4) “Come on, you know it’s a little bit funny ― laugh it off!”
Perfect for: Kids who take things too seriously.
Why it works: While not everything should be turned into a joke, injecting some humour now and then, depending on the situation, can ease the tension at that point. Once junior has calmed down or feels better after a belly laugh, he can look at the situation with a clearer head.
5) “Don’t let this ruin your day.”
Strategy: Compartmentalising things
Perfect for: Kids who are perfectionists.
Why it works: The ability to compartmentalise feelings and situations is an underrated coping skill, but goes a long way in developing resilience in a person. Once you’re able to realise that one unpleasant situation doesn’t have to ruin your entire day, it’ll be easier for you to move on with life and not allow it to affect your mood or those around you.
6) “This, too, shall pass.”
Strategy: Forward thinking
Perfect for: Kids who feel stuck in a situation.
Why it works: Life is a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs. Junior has to learn that he can’t get fixated on feeling bad about something that happened two months ago, because he needs to be ready to tackle the next issue that will arise. Instead, he has to work through his feelings (not ignore or bury them) and be in a better place, so that he’s mentally ready to face the next obstacle.
7) “Don’t worry, why don’t you take a break and see what happens next?”
Perfect for: Kids who overthink.
Why it works: Instead of letting him brood over his troubles, let junior watch some TV, go out for a walk or spend some time together doing his favourite things. Stepping away from the situation break the cycle of replaying the awful events over and over again and help him see things from a fresh perspective.
8) “Who would you like to talk about this with?”
Strategy: Getting help
Perfect for: Kids who retreat every time they’re upset.
Why it works: Seeking solace in a trusted person doesn’t mean you’re weak. Instead, it’s a really good coping strategy, because it can reassure junior that everything will be alright or that they are being heard. Sharing the weight that’s on your offspring’s shoulders can prevent him from descending into depression or worse yet, taking his own life over a small problem.
9) “Let’s sit down and think about how we can solve this.”
Strategy: Taking action
Perfect for: Kids who only complain but don’t do anything about it.
Why it works: Feeling overwhelmed over a situation can rob your child of happiness and fill him with helplessness and sadness. The more he broods and complains about it, the worse he will feel. So, teach your child that if something is making him unhappy, he has to change the situation before the situation changes him. Only he can improve his own life and the first step to doing so is to figure out a game plan ― preferably with mummy and daddy’s help.
Main photo: iStock
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