External life factors can place a lot of stress on children, with the potential to children’s psychological health. These impacts were more prevalent than ever over the past year and  a half due to the ongoing pandemic. While it should always be a goal to educate children of what is occurring in the world around them, the balance between educating and instilling fear can be a tough line to balance.

Reducing the effects of stress factors on children is essential to their healthy development. Some children naturally develop resilience to achieve this. According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, “One way to understand the development of resilience is to visualize a balance scale or seesaw. Protective experiences and coping skills on one side counterbalance significant adversity on the other. Resilience is evident when a child’s health and development tips toward positive outcomes — even when a heavy load of factors is stacked on the negative outcome side.”

There are several elements in a child’s life that can foster the building of resiliency.  In particular, it has been found that strong and supportive relationships with an adult in their life can promote such life skills. Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., MS Ed, FAAP has identified seven key points of resilience that parents and caregivers can use as guidelines, called the seven “C”s; competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control.

Competence can be strengthened by focusing on a child’s strengths, avoiding comparisons, and empowering children to make their own decisions. Closely tied to competence, confidence in children can be built with honest praise for specific achievements and ensuring they don’t take on more than they can realistically handle. Connection is important for deep relationships with family or friends and can be reinforced with healthy bonds. That connection will help them with character and instill solid morals in children. To strengthen character, it is important to demonstrate the importance of community and how behaviors of one individual can affect others.

Children should be aware of their importance in their community and know that the world is better with them in it. Teach children how to contribute by explaining that they may be able to help by serving others. Learning to cope with stress is vital to overcoming life’s challenges. Demonstrate positive coping mechanisms and avoid condemning negative behaviors. Teach children about control by communicating that most events in life are triggered by someone’s actions or words. The knowledge of control over the outcome of situations based on their behavior can help reinforce competence and confidence.

Although the adaptability to circumstances is developed earlier in life, resilient capabilities can be improved at any age. With some age-appropriate, healthy activities, older children and adults can strengthen their own resilience to stress-inducing experiences. Find more tips about improving children’s mental health, as well as your own, on our blog, or check out our trainings for more in-depth learning.