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Eight Ways Parents Can Build Resilience

Posted on June 5, 2018 at 6:19 pm

We’ve had a lot of questions lately from parents of secondary school children and graduates, on the subject of resilience: there’s no doubt that this has recently become something of a buzzword.

At its simplest, resilience means the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt to change and persist in the face of adversity. Apparently, however, this is a behavioural skill many teenagers are struggling to develop: multiple weekly headlines tell us that young people’s mental health is a real concern.

Parents, meanwhile, are frequently struggling to come to grips with an environment of academic pressure that can actually seem to discourage resilience. The challenge is, in the face of an exam-centred culture, to support our children to grow. They need to know it’s OK to follow their instincts, find their passion, and become the kind of well-rounded individual that employers actually want, out there in the real world.

The irony is that as school becomes more academically pressured, employers are looking for creativity, problem-solving aptitude, collaboration skills and emotional intelligence. As the world of work changes, young people will need to learn faster and think creatively. Working alongside machines, they will need to master the skills robots cannot: including emotional intelligence and empathy. The ability to persist in difficult times and to make changes when things aren’t going well will be absolutely key.

The good news is that even more than other aspects of emotional intelligence, resilience can be learnt. There are plenty of practical actions you can take to support your child to become more confident and more resilient.

Here are our top tips:

1.       Self-awareness: ensure your child has a good grasp of their own strengths and areas for development. Flying Start XP can help with this: we use a tool called C-Me - a behavioural profiling tool that draws on colours to give our students a simple and memorable language they can use to understand themselves. This is a relatively low-cost tool that we’ve found makes a profound difference.

2.       The space to explore and grow: academic results are important, but make sure you support and encourage your child to follow and develop their interests outside of school.

3.        Fake it till you make it: is your child a chronic self-doubter? Many young people experience imposter syndrome just as much as adults.  Take the time to sit with your child and watch Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk on this. It went viral for a reason: it’s simple, effective advice on being the change you would like to see in yourself. Pretending to be confident and assertive may well be the first step for them in becoming those things.

4.        Work experience: use your own networks to find as much work experience as possible for your child. Encourage part-time jobs and voluntary work. Out in the real world, they’ll test out their skills, make mistakes and learn how to recover from them. They’ll gain confidence from mixing with a broader range of people

5.        Volunteering: moving from the competitive academic world of school to a community context focused on collaboration, sharing and helping out can be profound. It can make young people feel needed and valued without feeling pressured. They are then able to experiment, learn new skills and make mistakes they can learn from constructively.

6.        Mentoring: encourage your child to form relationships with other adults: your friends’, friends’ parents, uncles and aunts. The more adults around to field questions and plant ideas, the better. Encourage your children  to ask questions of adults in general. How did they get into their line of work? What do they love about it? How is it challenging? Making a habit of asking questions like this will build confidence and knowledge.

7.        Technology: social media is usually cited as a big factor in young people’s mental health problems. We can’t just switch it off, so what can we do? A positive starting point is to support your child to build a more positive relationship with the digital world. Help them to ask how they can use tech to achieve their goals: options include blogging, learning coding, building a website, starting a LinkedIn profile or even settting up an online business.

8.        Be a role model: if you want your child to be happy to make and learn from mistakes, you need to show them you can do this, and that this is important to you. Tell them when your day goes wrong, and let them know how you reacted. Share those moments when your own confidence wavered, and tell them how you managed to soldier on.

Good luck: it's not necessarily going to be easy, but making a start is really powerful. We’d love to know how you get on!

Alex Webb is Director of Flying Start XP, a start-up running key skills and business behaviour courses. Students and attendees acquire the confidence needed to get the best jobs and to add value to their employers from day one, starting with self-awareness as this is the key to building relationships. So important in the working world! Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for all the latest news, updates and special offers. 







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