Being connected is the most important ingredient to building resilience. Resilient kids are not completely independent kids. Resilient kids have lots of supportive people in their lives who need and value them. and feel they are valued and needed. Therefore, get them connected.
Having strong connections at home is the foundation for resilience. No matter how strong a child may be, if that foundation is not solid, even the most resilient of kids can fall hard.
The most important first step is being responsive and supportive. Be sure you take time to listen to your kids when they have something to say. (And not negate what they say.) Show interest. Actively listen with a supportive (rather than nagging, advice giving, lecturing) ear, no matter what they tell you. Doing so is important for connection and will help kids become more comfortable sharing their feelings and maybe even asking for help.
Look for as many ways to connect with your kids as possible daily (e.g., at dinner and/or bedtime), weekly (e.g., baking on the weekend), and monthly (e.g., going swimming). You can do things together as a family, such as going on a day trip once a month or eating dinner together several times a week. But, you will also want to spend one-on-one time with each of your kids.
Also ensure that your kids feel like they are valued and have something to offer the family so they feel like they belong. Ask for their opinion and actively listen to what they have to say. Follow along with their input at least some of the time. (There is nothing worse than being asked for your opinion only to have it negated.)
Also organize opportunities for your kids to spend time with extended family or friends so they are exposed to other important people who care about them. Invite them over for dinner or to your kids’ games.
Resilient kids are connected with, and feel like they belong, to school. These kids feel cared for. They are engaged in their learning and willing to put forth their best effort.
Encourage your kids to get involved as much as possible at school, such as extracurricular lunch or after school activities. There are also ways to get connected in class, such as sending teachers or peers thank you notes, letting them know they are appreciated. Finding some similarity they can connect to, such as peers with the same pets or birthday months can go a long way.
Having kids working together towards a common goal is another great way to get kids connected. Having them work (even on their own) towards some part of a group project can help them feel like they are important contributors.
In the community
There are lots of ways to get connected in the community. The best way to start is connecting with your neighbours. Do something special, like bake them cupcakes for their birthday or help them shovel their driveway. Little things can go a long way.
Being part of a sports team is an incredible way to help kids get involved and build resilience. Involvement in other community organizations is also important, such as leadership activities, volunteering, and theatre groups.
Move to #13: Make Contributions