Supporting our children in managing the complexities and pressures of modern life is more important than ever. Recent findings from the NHS revealed that more than one in three children and adolescents with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment in the UK.
Every child has the inherent potential to face and overcome obstacles. Resilience isn’t merely an innate trait some possess, and others lack; rather, it’s a dynamic skill that evolves with experience and age. In this blog, Dr Michelle Muniz, the director of Purple House Clinic Glasgow, provides valuable advice on building mental resilience in children and how we can support their mental wellbeing.
Find learning opportunities
Avoid immediately resolving issues for your child. While certain situations may require immediate adult intervention, many instances serve as golden opportunities for children to grow. By allowing them to grapple with challenges, they not only learn to find solutions on their own but also develop critical problem-solving skills. This hands-on experience in handling difficulties bolsters their confidence and teaches them perseverance. In the long run, fostering this sense of independence and resourcefulness in children equips them to face life’s myriad challenges with resilience and tenacity.
Fearing mistakes can stunt resilience and often correlates with heightened anxiety in children. When achievement is the sole focus, children become ensnared in a binary mindset of success or failure, pushing them to sidestep any risks. Recognising and embracing mistakes, not just in your children but as adults and guardians, fosters a culture of continuous learning and encourages a growth-oriented mindset. Encourage your child to have another go when things don’t work out the first time and see what lessons you can learn.
Exercise is not just beneficial for the body; it also fortifies the brain, enhancing its ability to combat stress and tackle adversities. Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins that boost brain health and help foster mental resilience. Problem-solving, teamwork, imagination, creativity, and a sense of autonomy are all qualities integral to helping build mental resilience. Sports and other similar activities help us with qualities that stretch far beyond winning and losing. They present unique opportunities to learn and grow, as well as being a great way to create new social connections.
How to navigate trauma and major life changes
Navigating trauma and major life changes such as bullying, illness or bereavement in children demands a compassionate, patient, and proactive approach. At the core of helping a child through such experiences is the establishment of a consistent, safe, and nurturing environment where they can express their feelings without judgment. Open communication is crucial: encourage them to discuss their emotions, but also give them the space and time they need to process events at their own pace. Seeking professional assistance, such as therapy or counselling, can provide tailored strategies to address the specific nature of the trauma.
In today’s rapidly changing world, children are confronted with unprecedented challenges, making it imperative to equip them with the tools they need to thrive. The recent surge in the number of children in the UK awaiting mental health services underscores the urgency of this task. But by dedicating genuine moments of connection, teaching children to learn from their struggles, embracing imperfections, encouraging physical activity, and thoughtfully navigating traumatic experiences, we pave the way for our younger generation to grow into robust, resilient adults.