Raising Resilient Children

By Dr. Vera Gabliani, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

The majority of parents I talk with worry about their child’s self esteem and ability to cope with the stresses of life. Well intentioned parents believe they need to protect their child from making mistakes and experiencing failures or disappointments. So, when a difficult situation arises, they will typically problem solve for their child, overly reassure their child, or praise her while talking about the need to be positive.

Interesting research by Dr. Marty Seligman, a psychologist, suggests that children need to experience failures and difficult life experiences, in order to become resilient. The key is in the handling of these mistakes, inevitable disappointments, and painful life experiences.

A developmental task your child faces in these situations is learning to evaluate herself realistically, to persevere, and to move through these challenges while developing a sense of her own power and self worth. Our task as adults is to empathize with the discomfort associated with learning while teaching how to manage these painful emotions and thoughts constructively. By giving realistic and direct feedback on what she can change, we empower her to persist and work through difficult situations. It is also important for parents to guide their child in letting go of and accepting what she cannot change, and to tolerate her discomfort while she is working through this task.

The above process is what helps your child to develop a realistic and balanced view of herself and the world, promoting life-long resilience.

Dr. Vera Gabliani has been working with parents and girls and women for over 15 years to achieve their personal best as they grow through their life experiences. She welcomes your calls at (314) 966-0880.