Today in my new advice column, I have received a question asking how to increase a child’s resilience
My daughter is 9.
I was wondering if you had any ideas or tips for promoting her self esteem and resilience. She is so capable of so much, but she’s so scared of failing she won’t even try sometimes. She’s also so sensitive to anything around her – she just isn’t able to let things go. If something at school happens it will upset her for the rest of the day.
I hope you can help
Worried mum x
How to Increase a Child’s Resilience
Hello worried mum.
Thank you for writing in.
I think you have absolutely nailed it in your first sentence, what your daughter needs is a boost in her self esteem and resilience. How lucky she is you have her back and are seeking out ways to help her feel stronger.
Sensitivity is an awesome attribute, it makes children great friends, full of empathy, kinder, more gentle and considerate. The world absolutely needs more of that.
The challenge sensitive people have though, of course, is being hurt by their sensitivity and being so sensitive they are scared to embrace life. This is where robustness behind the sensitivity is essential.
There is so much you can do help her through this and a lot she can do to help herself.
Let’s look at this in 2 parts tackling worries, then self-esteem
As her worries are consuming her and she is struggling to let go of them I would suggest she needs to manage the time she spends on them. Having a specific ‘worry time’ can work so well for this.
Work out a specific time with her when you can sit with her each day and address her worries, hear them and where possible find solutions together. If you can’t do this to later in the evening have her place her worries on slips on paper in a worry box on arrival from school. This way she can get them out of her head and leave them be, knowing they will be addressed.
This will provide her with plenty of worry-free time to focus on having fun and relaxing. She’ll find it hard at first but keeping worry to a specified time stops it taking over her life.
Energy flows where attention goes.
Her energy needs to be less on her worries and more on how brilliant she is and how capable and how strong.
Encouraging your daughter to see and value herself means encouraging her to focus on her individual strengths and achievements. Asking her ‘what went well today’ or ‘what are you proud of today’ encourages to see herself and her life in a more positive light. If you also share what went well for you and talk positively about yourself this will model this to your daughter. It can become a regular ‘feel good’ mealtime conversation.
Encouraging her to get out into the world is important.
The more she tries new things the less fear of ‘failure’ will bother her. She will come to see it as ‘experience’ or ‘practice’ instead.’ Could you both sit down and create a list of goals. Perhaps they could include inviting a new friend to tea, attending a new after school club, taking the neighbour something she has baked, walking the dog by herself? The more capable she feels the more she will want to try things. Each time a new challenge is conquered she will feel spurred on. Take small steps together to start with but keep on taking them.
I would recommend talking to her teacher too, perhaps they could give her a role, maybe reading to a younger child? Being given responsibility does wonders to help self-esteem and confidence grow.
She sounds a wonderful girl and once she knows how wonderful she is her sensitivity will cease to be a problem and become her biggest asset.
Wishing you all the best, Becky
If you have a parenting dilemma you would like answering please write to me at Becky.Goddard@ntlworld.com. All answers will, of course, be anonymous.