A goal most parents have for their children is that they will be strong enough to make it through whatever life throws at them. Yet, do we know how to raise them to be resilient?
Parenting researcher Justin Coulson stated, "The most resilient kids feel they have a parent who cares about them and listens to them." How can we make sure we are that type of parent to our children?
When your child is talking to you, stop what you're doing and make a concerted effort to actively listen. This means you must put down your smartphone, look away from your computer, stop thinking about other things, and focus on your child and what he is saying. Make eye contact with your daughter and watch her social cues as well. Communicating is both verbal and non-verbal.
Stop shooing your kid away by saying "I'm busy." If you are too busy to talk to your child, she will feel like she's not important to you. If you truly can't talk to your children at the moment they ask, tell them you can talk soon, and make sure you do it! Even if you think what they have to say is unimportant, the way you react now will make a huge difference as to whether or not they'll be willing to talk to you about the major stuff later in life.
“Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff,” said cultural historian Catherine M. Wallace.
Besides being an active listener, there are other ways to show you truly care about your child. Kids need affection. This can be verbal as well as physical. Saying "I love you" and giving lots of hugs and kisses is vital to your child's life. You can also write your child notes telling him all the great things you love about him, how proud you are of him, and how special he is to you. Telling and showing your child that you love her are equally important.
Children also need your time. They need one-on-one time as well as family time. Get an ice cream cone together, take a walk, play board games, read books as a family, and take family trips. These times can lead to open conversation as well as a stronger bond. Because you take the time for them, they will know you care.
When disagreements arise or your kids have made a big mistake, it's important to remain calm regardless of the situation. Take a breath. Start thinking clearly before you react. You are an adult, and acting mature will make a huge difference in these situations. Think of how you would react if one of your friends or a child of a friend came to you in the same circumstance. How would you respond to him or her? Would the response be the same for your own child? It should be, or at least it should be a similar reaction.
Listening to your children when they want or need to talk; giving affection and time; and responding calmly regardless of the situation will give your children a feeling of security and safety. Seeing your good example and knowing you care, will give your children the tools they need to be resilient children and adults.