PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Teaching Your Child Resilience

Posted on Mar 29, 2016


Although parents naturally to want to protect their children from the ups and downs of life, it’s not always possible, especially as kids get older. Accordingly, one of the most important things you can do is to help your child develop the resilience, confidence and skills they need to handle problems and setbacks successfully. In this blog post, Manisha Panchal, M.D., a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, answers these common questions and offers tips to help parents teach their kids how to stay healthy and balanced even when the going gets tough.

What’s the best way to raise a confident, resilient child?

In school, encourage your child to work hard, do their best and persevere, rather than focusing on achieving a certain grade. These goals will teach your child to work towards an objective and problem solve rather than giving up or feeling bad if they don’t receive a particular grade. Remember that parents’ expectations can put enormous pressure on children, even unintentionally.

Make sure your child always feels safe and loved. A secure, supportive and nurturing home environment gives your child a solid foundation to draw from when dealing with difficult situations.

Spend time together as a family. This is an essential part of creating a nurturing, safe environment for your child. Sitting down to a meal together at the end of the day is an easy way for parents and kids to connect and share what is going on in their lives.

What else can I do to help my son deal successfully with problems?

Dealing with any potential stress or problems is easier if you are healthy. Help your son establish lifelong healthy habits by teaching him a routine that emphasizes the following:

Sufficient sleep: Well-rested children manage challenges more effectively. 10-12 hours of sleep a day (for elementary school children) is critical to let your child’s brain rest from all the learning it has done during the day and to give your child’s body time to recover as it grows and develops.

Good nutrition: Use the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy) as your guide. Offer foods in a rainbow of colors and encourage your son to try different foods. Children should also take a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement for best health.

Regular exercise: At least sixty minutes of vigorous physical activity every day is essential. Kids who exercise regularly have less stress, more confidence and do better in school. To help encourage activity, prioritize unplugged time. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits.

What are some of the signs that my daughter is getting too stressed?

Too much stress can affect your child’s health. Your daughter may be suffering from stress if she:

  • Complains of headaches and stomach pains
  • Seems withdrawn, forgetful or overwhelmed and is not doing what she is supposed to be doing
  • Has trouble falling asleep and seems tired and irritable during the day
  • Is not thriving at school and has less interest than usual in attending classes and doing homework
  • Seems less interested in activities that she used to enjoy
  • Loses or gains weight which might also indicate an eating disorder

How can I help my son learn to manage stress or problems?

Don’t try to solve your son’s problems for him. Instead, empower him with skills that he can use throughout his life when things get difficult to manage. Follow these tips:

  • Teach time management, so school projects aren’t left to the last minute.
  • Make time for breaks. Tasks often expand to fit the time allowed for them. Taking time for a break or sports activity can help provide stress relief.
  • Help him create a manageable schedule. If assignments are slipping through the cracks or he is missing sports practices, help him problem solve to keep things balanced. Ask him what he thinks is a reasonable load and if there are any activities he could let go to make his schedule more manageable.
  • Model good stress management skills – you are your child’s best role model.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure you know what’s going on in his life and check in with him often. Let him know that you are always there to talk things through.

Panchal_Manisha300  4webManisha Panchal, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation