Many parents may feel inclined to keep their children sheltered from the everyday struggles that life presents to us all. However, the bad news is that is can hinder several important areas of child development such as healthy coping skills and resilience.

Recently, there was a situation where parents in the United States allegedly paid large sums of money to ensure their children were accepted into one of the most prestigious educational institutions in America.

This sheds light on the extent to which some parents are prepared to go to ensure their children get a head start in life.

Building a child's resilience - Child development

However, when children are not faced with the challenges of overcoming certain hurdles, their ability to bounce back in the face of adversity is not properly developed.

Unhealthy parenting styles

Helicopter parenting

This is used to describe the parent who aim to protect their children from negative experiences or failure by constantly hovering over them.

Bulldozer parenting

This describes the parent who is overly concerned with their children’s future and will take any possible measure to make sure their child is not faced with any barriers which may prevent them from succeeding.

Intensive parenting

This term is used to describe the type of parent who will spend unreasonable amounts of time and money on their children, in the hope that they have the best possible start in life.

Building resilience in youth

Adversity is inevitable and although it might be out of good intention to protect your child from hardship, it may very likely be doing more harm than good.

There are certain stages of early childhood development which are a crucial part of nurturing a healthy minded and capable adult.

Should a child be kept away from these early developmental stages, they will find it increasingly difficult to face daily challenges.

Overly protective parenting will also chip away at a child’s confidence to achieve even the smallest task on their own. This lack of self-confidence can lead to several other psychological issues in the future.

Furthermore, research actually indicates that helicopter and bulldozer parenting are directly linked to depression and other mental health issues in adolescence and adulthood.

The problem is that, once a child reaches a certain stage of life, it becomes more difficult to learn valuable skills such as resilience and perseverance.

These skills will foster the development of other valuable skills such as independent problem solving and healthy communication which are all necessary for a child to ultimately succeed in life.

Children who have parents that encourage self-development and problem solving have shown to have better mental health and also do better academically.

Although it may seem a little scary to do, allowing your child to fail is what ultimately builds resilience.

In order to learn how to overcome life’s challenges, we must be allowed to face them alone and find our own way of overcoming the problem.

Having said this, it’s still extremely to provide the necessary emotional support for your child during hard times.  The right amount of emotional support and guidance is also necessary for the healthy development of your child.

How to build resilience in your child

  • Encourage children to partake in activities that push their boundaries slightly and take them out of their comfort zones.
  • Display your own problem-solving skills while portraying patience, perseverance and confidence in your own ability. If you feel it’s appropriate, allow them to see you fail and try again, and even ask them for their input. Additionally, when they are busy with their own problem, stand aside and simply observe. Avoid jumping in at the first sign of difficulty.
  • Foster a positive relationship with your child with an open display of love and support. It’s important for your child feel safe enough to approach you in any situation.
  • Encourage your child to develop healthy relationships with family members, friends and even other members of the community. When a child is confident enough to communicate and interact with others, they experience less stress and anxiety during adversity.
  • Nurture your child’s confidence by praising them when they have achieved something, no matter how small. Encourage them throughout the entire process so they can feel a sense of acknowledgement. This drives perseverance.

Characteristics of a resilient child

  • Self-confidence. Confident children perform better in school and are more likely to bounce back from negative experiences.
  • They have an increased ability to master both soft and hard skills.
  • Resilient children have a stronger connection to family, friends, caregivers and teachers. They also find it easier to build new connections with other people.
  • They believe that they play a vital role in society and that their contribution is valuable and important. This sense of worth will also drive the desire to contribute as much as much as they have the capacity for.
  • They know who they are. They feel secure in their character and strive to live by high moral standards and principles.
  • Coping abilities. A resilient child is able to manage their emotions in a healthy way while facing adversity. They do not give up at the first sign of a challenge.

Kay Dee Educare Centre Mowbray – Educare Centre in Cape Town

We believe that a resilient child is a happy child. Our educare program focuses on all stages of child development. For more information, contact us.