Resilience is a vital trait for your son to have. Resilient boys are better equipped to cope with life’s curve balls and, in fact, become stronger with each hurdle they overcome. Building resilience in your son will help him expertly manoeuvre and overcome each day’s ups and downs.
A great metaphor Beyond Blue uses to explain resilience is to imagine a plane encountering turbulence when flying. This turbulence represents life’s challenges. Resilience is how your child, as the pilot, responds to the poor conditions.
Here are four tips to get you started in building resilience in your son:
1. Arm him with the right tools
It’s important to arm your son with the right tools, such as slowing down his thought process and interpreting his problems accurately. In The Optimistic Child, Martin Seligman provides a comprehensive toolkit to help you teach your son healthy ways of thinking about his problems. This strategy includes disciplining your son in an encouraging way and having conversations about the setbacks he is facing.
2. Lead by example
To carry forward the Beyond Blue metaphor, you are a co-pilot in your son’s life. It is so vital to role model healthy thinking to your son when problem-solving. Don’t be afraid to talk through your thought process as this will teach your son different ways to look at his problems and how to solve them. Involving your son in this process and showing him how you personally deal with obstacles shows him that he isn’t alone in facing challenges, and that you are available when he does encounter difficulties.
3. Talk it through
Discuss the setback with your son and work together to devise a solution. Your son can often catastrophise his errors or predict the worst possible outcomes. A a parent, your responsibility is to help him see the bigger picture and not to identify himself as the cause for his faults. Don’t let your son blame his character or abilities for the problem he faces. Just because he has made a mistake, it doesn’t mean he is a failure. Always direct his attention to the specific behaviour that caused the problem.
4. Prepare them for any outcome
Encourage your son to ask questions like, “What’s the best/worst that could happen?”, “What’s most likely to happen?” and “What’s a good way to respond to the most likely outcome?” Having these types of conversations will help him to be more optimistic, and at the same time, prepare him for any outcome and improve his ability to think critically and problem solve.
All boys are capable of building resilience. You cannot shield your son from life’s disappointments, but you can certainly equip him with the right mindset and tools to bounce back.
Resilience is important for mental health and wellbeing. Boys can learn how to apply strategies for healthy living through The Wynne Centre for Boys’ Health and Wellbeing at Christ Church Grammar School. If you are interested in gaining further insight on Health and wellbeing for boys or other helpful tips on raising your son, subscribe to our enewsletter.