Growing resilient children for today. – Andrea Driver

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Growing resilient children for today. – Andrea Driver

Mental health in New Zealand is a topical issue —some may even say we have an epidemic of mental illness. Many New Zealand families are coping with multiple and complex everyday stress. Stress on families means stress on children.

In today’s world all children face stress, disappointment, challenges and loss, and while some children seem to naturally be more resilient than others, we can and must nurture resilience in all children. Resilience is the ability to successfully manage life and adapt to change and stressful events in healthy and constructive ways. Some people would say we are born with the capacity for resilience. I believe it is something we grow and work on throughout our entire lives.

Early childhood educators are ultimately striving to nurture preschool children to become competent and confident learners and communicators. We want children to be confident as they grow and contribute to society. As children grow, life presents them with many challenges and often the confidence we have nurtured in them is not enough. Children need more. They need resilience. Parents can help build children’s resilience by modelling how they manage and get through stress, hardship and trauma.

When parents model calmness and an ability to be flexible with everyday stress, they are showing their children how to cope and promote resilience. Building a loving relationship with children is an important way to support children’s resilience.

Be empathic to your child, see the world through the child’s eyes. No matter how much time we spend with our children or how successfully we are at teaching them to believe in themselves, all children will at some time experience disappointment, frustration, grief, fear and anger.

While we can’t protect our children from every hurt but we can foster their self-belief, maintain a strong connection with them and nurture their capacity to cope with everyday challenges.

We can’t change the world overnight but we can nurture our children’s resilience every day. Until we can give our children a better world we’ll have to give our world more resilient children.

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