Raising Resilient, Confident and Aware Children

By Dr. Vera Gabliani, Clinical Psychologist

The majority of parents I encounter 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 in order to build their self esteem. So, when a difficult situation arises, they will typically problem solve for their child, overly reassure their child, or praise their child while trying to talk only about the 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 maintaining and further developing a sense of her own power and self worth. Our task as adults is to empathize with the discomfort associated with this learning process while teaching how to manage these painful emotions and thoughts constructively.

One way to teach this is by having conversations about the situation and replaying what else was possible to choose to do or just as importantly to not do. You are building the skill of self-awareness and self control by highlighting the power of choice to respond versus react. By having these conversations, we empower our child to be aware of and work through their thoughts and feelings when facing challenging situations. It is also important for parents to guide their child in letting go of and accepting what she cannot change in this moment, and to tolerate her discomfort while she is working through this task. This builds the child’s own sense of patience and tolerance for self and therefore others.

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

Dr. Vera Gabliani has been facilitating parents, girls and women for over 20 years to achieve personal empowerment as they grow through their life experiences. She welcomes your calls at (314)966-0880.