Why failure is so essential to building resilience, but also to experiencing success
How to grow your child’s resilience
All children are capable of extraordinary things. The potential for happiness and greatness lies in all of them, and will mean different things to different children. As parents, we naturally want to cushion our child’s fall, manage their challenges and build their confidence. We believe our job, as a good parent, is to protect our child from failure.
However, is our natural protective instinct stopping our children from building their own resilience and ability to bounce back from trauma or adversity? It is a sad fact that mental health problems in children is on the increase. Could this because we have become over protective? We honestly don’t know. What we do know is that recent research has demonstrated that building resilience in children helps them navigate stressful situations allowing them to be able to bounce back from stress, challenge, trauma or adversity.
Resilient children act braver, are much more curious and can adapt to situations more easily.
Changing your child’s mindset to allow for resilience
There are a number of strategies we can do, as parents, to start to build their resilience and to allow them to confront uncertainty by helping them to solve problems independently.
Here's the science bit
During times of adversity or stress, our body goes through a number of changes designed to make us faster, stronger and more alert. It is often called the ‘fight-or-flight’ syndrome. The term ‘fight-or-flight’ represents the choices that our ancient ancestors had when faced with a danger in their environment. They could either fight or flee. In either case, the physiological and psychological response to stress prepares the body to react to the danger. Now it can happen in the face of an imminent physical danger or, a more regular occurrence, as a result of a psychological threat (such as preparing to speak in front of an audience, like the school play).
Resilience refers to a person’s ability to adapt successfully to acute stress, trauma or more chronic forms of adversity. It is related to the capacity to re-activate the prefrontal cortex and calm the amygdala. Thus resulting in the person’s ability to adapt and ultimately cope with the stress.
This is the control tower of the brain. Located at the front of the brain, it is known to shut down temporarily during times of stress. It is the part of the brain which allows for concentration, problem solving, controlling impulsive behaviours and regulating emotions ‘executive functions’. It can also be the reason some children are unable to concentrate in a competition or examination environment.
The part of the brain responsible for our instinctive, impulsive responses. The Amygdala controls the release of adrenaline and cortisol which, in times of stress can send our heart rate up; make us feel flushed; dilate our pupils and, in extreme cases, make us tremble as our muscles tense up.
A big part of resilience is our children building their belief in themselves. Negative thoughts will come, so will bad feelings as they experience the world. As parents, we hold the power to give our children the skills and wisdom they need to fuel the ‘warrior voice’ that is inside them that will fight for them, believe in them, and strengthen them from the inside out.