Building Your Child's Resilience

Building resilience is key to helping our children and young people cope with the challenges of life. Some children are naturally more resilient than others. They bounce back after set-backs or disappointments. They find new friends easily when there are fall-outs and issues between them and their peers. Other children react completely differently and issues which some may consider to be trivial, are overwhelming challenges.

I see many children and young people whose parents are worried about their over-dependence on them. Their children are anxious about taking on new things, meeting new people and becoming more independent. The problem seems to be increasing for secondary aged children.

It’s a pleasure for me to work with these youngsters and to help them to build skills of resilience. For parents to continue the work I have started with the child, here are some ideas and suggestions (which you many have already tried – in which case, please keep going – these things are ongoing and can take a long time to have an impact, but you are doing a great job!):

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Molly's Anxiety Story

Anxiety is a natural human reaction that involves mind and body. It serves an important basic survival function: Anxiety is an alarm system that is activated whenever a person perceives danger or threat.

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety from time to time. For children, learning to cope with worries is part of learning and growing. However, if feelings of anxiety happen frequently or are sustained, children’s experiences of feeling uneasiness, nervousness, worry, fear, or dread of what's about to happen or what might happen can have an impact on their behaviour - perhaps even their mental health and wellbeing if they don’t receive some help or support.

An eight-year old girl called Molly recently came to see me. Her mum recognised that she, herself, is a ‘worrier’ and could see some concerning patterns of behaviour appearing in Molly’s life. Molly was starting to get extremely anxious – to the point where she got very bad feelings in her tummy and found it hard to breathe at times. These ‘panicy’ events were becoming more frequent and more intense.

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Anger issues are very common for our children

In the last few months, I have seen many children whose parents want me to help their children change their behaviour. 

Anger is at the root of the much of behaviour which is making the child unhappy and having a negative impact on the whole family. 

What is making our children so angry? There are many reasons but my job as a coach is to help the child manage their feelings and behaviour when they happen. This is different to therapy or counselling (which may be appropriate in certain circumstances); rather than focussing on the past and reasons for feelings, we  work together to focus on strategies which help the child to recognise different feelings and triggers and then to help replace the resulting negative behaviours with positive ones. 

Andrew, aged 10, recently came to see me. He became extremely angry with his brother who is 2 years younger than him. Andrew had a 'light-bulb' moment when, as we were talking, he suddenly realised that his younger brother wasn't going to change and that he was going to have to find ways of changing if he was to be happier.

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Overcoming secondary school worries for Lily

Lily's mum was very worried. Lily is 12 and started secondary school in September. Her moods and behaviour had changed over a few short months since September.

Lily's mum tried to talk to her, but Lily said she was fine every time - although she clearly wasn't. Lily was showing terrible mood swings and had started to become very uncommunicative. Her mum put it down to becoming almost a teenager and starting a new school - but she had become more and more anxious about her daughter. Lily's mum contacted Sue who was very happy to see Lily - although Lily wasn't very happy to see Sue at first! She wasn't interested in sitting down and talking to a stranger.

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