Psychologist Dr. Thomas Brunner talks about how to prepare children for trauma and build resiliency into their character. He believes five elements are crucial. In a previous blog post we talked about touch on the first two qualities: building self-esteem and insight and building a sense of hope.
Dr. Brunner also emphasizes the importance of developing three other key qualities in children:
Teach healthy coping skills. Teach your children how people typically respond to stressful situations. It’s normal to feel anxiety, fear, and to cry. Teach them that these responses are part of the cycle of response to trauma and how to recognize their own responses and to develop healthy mechanisms for self-soothing. Effective self-soothing strategies can involve the senses: taking a relaxing bath, cuddling with a stuffed animal, talking to someone, eating a comforting meal, watching a funny TV show. Encourage your child that they can learn to cope with problems and challenges, learn from them and become stronger.
Teach your child to develop and lean on strong relationships. Children gain resiliency when they know they can turn to people who are invested in their lives, no matter what. Teach your children to seek out help when they need it. Teach them to talk to seek out counsel and talk to others who are wiser and more experienced when they face challenges.
Give your child a bigger perspective on life. Teach them moral integrity and to view life in terms of the bigger issues of morality, integrity, world view, life values, and serving others. Teach them to respond to life out of a desire to contribute to the greater good of mankind.
Children learn best from what we demonstrate to them in our lives. Tell them how you overcame adversity in your life. Share stories that influenced your personal growth. Introduce them to people who inspired and shaped your life.
Then watch as resilience takes root in their life and grows.