Have you ever noticed a willow tree in a storm? The long, thin branches will bend with the wind and weather the storm unharmed. However, a strong oak tree beside the willow might lose branches or even the tree itself may break or topple under the onslaught.
Why is this?
The willow is willing to bend and move with galeforce winds whereas the unyielding oak refuses to bend, but may not be strong enough to withstand the storm.
People can be the same. Some are willing to bend with the high winds of life but others are broken by a similar circumstance. We call this ability to weather the storm resilience. Helping children become more resilient is important for their mental well-being. Let’s dig deeper.
The willow tree that we mentioned is a perfect example of resilience. Though the tree is battered by storms, its flexibility and deep roots allow it to stay standing strong.
People are the same way. Those who have more inner strength, determination, positivity, and other similar qualities are more resilient. They are not immune to life’s tragedies, but they are better able to weather them.
Is Resilience Innate or Learned?
Psychologists talk about personality traits as being formed by nature or nurture. In other words, are people born with these traits or do they develop them in response to events that happen to them?
Which one is resilience?
In reality, it is both. Some children are naturally more resilient than others. You can see behavioural differences even in babies. Most babies are quite determined and will keep at a task trying to master it. However, some give up more easily than others in the process.
The good news about this is that even if your child doesn’t seem to have a lot of natural resilience, they can build more.
Tips for Building Resilient Children
One of the most consistent factors among resilient children is having a strong, steady relationship with at least one adult. This is like the deep roots of the willow tree. Knowing that someone always has their back gives children the base they need to stand strong.
Those who feel a strong connection to a community also tend to be more resilient. As their support web grows, so does their resilience.
It’s also important to let kids take charge of the things they can handle, like picking out their clothes or tying their shoes as appropriate. These little acts of independence help them to grow more resilient.
Sometimes, a therapist for a child may be necessary to help them through a difficult time. Not all children face the same circumstances. Those struggling with the death of a parent or another key individual have more to face and are forced to develop that resilience faster than others. It never hurts to offer help when needed.
Bent But Not Broken
No one escapes the wild winds of life. However, you can help your child weather those winds by teaching them to bend, but not be broken by the storms.