Importance of Coping Skills, Part II: Building Resilience

Boy riding bike with parentsResilience (from dictionary.com): 1. Power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc, after being bent, compressed or stretched; elasticity. 2. Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy; spring back.

My friends’ children, 4 and 5 years of age, are riding their bicycles without training wheels. They went out for a ride with their dad, doing well, but the 4 year old was going faster and she took her feet off the pedals because she was scared and she crashed into her dad. The 5 year old was going ahead of them on their way back home and he was told to slow down. He put the brakes on too fast and got thrown off the bike. Both children are doing alright, even with the scrapes, bumps, and bruises. This happened 2 weeks ago, and just this past Friday, the whole family went out and rode the same area as before. The son told his mom that he would not put the brakes on that hard this time. They both learned a lot from the accidents as well as the importance of not being afraid to get back on their bikes.

Young children are a little better with resilience than teenagers or adults. It’s almost like the “NO FEAR” light of small children does not have a warning button to proceed with caution. My 13 month old crawls over the couches and expects us to be there, which we are, but he has fallen, cried, and gotten back up, crawling and then walking all over the place. Teens and adults are a little bit more aware and cautious about getting hurt because it is painful. Teens and adults also seem to be more self-conscious about who is watching them and how they will look; they also have a lot of guilt when things are not done well.

How does resilience look? Well, with my friends’ kids, they crashed but got back up on their bikes. Their scrapes and cries were attended to, and they got back on their bikes. With my son, he was attended to when he would fall, and he soon was back to playing or walking around. Their feelings were VALIDATED and RECOGNIZED, and then they were ENCOURAGED to try again. They may have had some fears, which is natural, but I do not think there was enough fear to hold them back.

Resilience can be applied in any situation. Re-read the definition for resilience and try to think about the way that resilience can be applied to any situation. It’s about getting back up and trying again. Now, the other side of getting back up and re-doing something is that there may need to be a difference from the first time. For example: If losing weight is the goal, then we begin working out and changing eating habits. If we have done that before and not had a whole lot of results, then we try again but maybe get a trainer (if it fits the budget), look at our portions, set a goal for a 5K run, or something. WE CHANGE OUR THINKING.

How we see or think about a particular situation does affect our ability to move forward. I think this is one of the most challenging issues that all people face—well, maybe not young children! When the thoughts are changed and a person sees that things can still be different even if it appears to be more challenging, then resilience is definitely able to grow.

So, to build resilience within your children or yourself: Validate and Recognize the feelings about what is or has happened and then Encourage to TRY AGAIN!

Building resilience IS possible, so Go For It!

Related articles:
The Importance of Giving Your Child Positive Coping Skills in Life
Increasing Children’s Self-Esteem

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Graeme

    Graeme

    March 28th, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    One thing that sincerely frustrates me is when I see those who make no offort to try again. They best themselves up over some little failure and then they don’t have the strength to go on or so it seems. Give me a break! We can’t be that stoppable! You will never get anywhere in life if you can’t get up and dust yourself off and try again. It is a valuable lesson to learn as an adult, but to have that kind of attitude instilled in you from childhood is going to be priceless for the rest of your life.

  • Jake

    Jake

    March 28th, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Resilience is a great quality.it can help us get back up from ruins and get ahead.but the reason why many people lack this is because there is absolutely no room for error-especially when it comes to the professional life.

    You may want to get up after you take that fall but what if you are thrown out immediately after that fall?yes you can go back to work somewhere else but that is a different thing.I think we are becoming too much of a machine now.and forcing others around us to become machines too.

  • Kayla

    Kayla

    March 29th, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Being resilient or being able to bounce back from tragedy is something that I so admire in others. There are those people who, if I had had the same things happen to me in life I would have crumbled, but they manage to stay strong and keep on moving.

    How do they do that? It is that inner strength, that resilience, that gives them that ability to handle just about anything that life throws their way.

    It is about resilience and it is about faith, faith that God would not give them anymore than what He knows they can handle. That complete lack of feling like they are going to fail, because they just know that everything is going to be ok.

  • duncan

    duncan

    March 29th, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    For me it was all about setting goals and becoming determined to attain them.
    I had cruised through life for too long looking from place to place for happiness, nveer trying anything again once I failed at it once.
    But that caused me to realize that I sure was missing out on a lot of great things just because I did not like that feeling of failure.
    I had to set my goals and become determined to reach them or I was never going to be able to accomplish anything.
    And I wa stired of being disappointed in myself so I did it.
    It’s been hard and there has been setbacks but now instead of giving up they only make me work harder.

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