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Resilience in teenagers

Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ during or after difficult times and get back to feeling as good as before. It’s also the ability to adapt to difficult circumstances that you can’t change and keep on thriving.

Personal values and attitudes for building resilience

Self-respect is a great building block for resilience.

Self-respect grows out of setting standards for behaviour. If your child has self-respect, she believes that she matters and should be treated respectfully by others. She’s also more likely to protect herself by avoiding risky behaviour and situations. A strong sense of self-respect will also help your child be less vulnerable to bullies and bullying.

Social skills for resilience

Social skills are another important building block for resilience. They include skills for making and keeping friends, sorting out conflict, and working well in teams or groups.

When your child has good relationships at school and gets involved in community groups, sports teams or arts activities, he has more chances to develop connections and a sense of belonging.

Positive thinking habits for resilience

Resilience is about being realistic, thinking rationally, looking on the bright side, finding the positives, expecting things to go well and moving forward, even when things seem bad.

When your child is upset, you can help him keep things in perspective by focusing on facts and reality. You can also help your child understand that a bad thing in one part of her life doesn’t mean everything is bad.

Your child is more likely to feel positive if she can see that difficult times are a part of life, and that things will get better.

It’s also good for your child to have simple strategies for turning low moods into better ones. Here are some ideas:

  • Do things you enjoy or that help you relax, like watching a funny TV show or DVD or reading a good book.
  • Spend time with friends or support people.
  • Do something kind for someone else – for example, carrying the grocery shopping in from the car.
  • Look for the positive or funny side of a difficult situation.
  • Do some physical activity, like playing sport or going for a vigorous walk.
  • Go over some good memories by looking through photographs.

Skills for getting things done

Feeling confident, capable and ready to get things done are big parts of resilience. Important skills in this area are goal-setting, planning, being organised and self-disciplined, being prepared to work hard and being resourceful.

You can foster these skills in your child by helping him work out his specific strengths and limitations. Then you can encourage him to set goals that put his strengths into action, and that help him to focus on what he’s good at.

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