Building Resilience

written by Susan (

Greetings from South Africa. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist and love working with couples and families. One common complaint from parents is that their child is not doing well. Maybe they are acting out, being rebellious, complaining, or not wanting to do schoolwork or chores.

One of the first questions that I ask is “how is the rest of the family doing?” Sometimes children are acting out because one of their parents is struggling, another sibling is sick, or the marriage is having troubles. 

To understand resilience, we can think of a tree that blows in the wind. Sometimes, it will bend so far that it almost touches the ground. But, when the wind stops, it goes back upright and doesn’t break. Resilience is like the tree that bends when things get difficult, but it doesn’t break. Rather, it bounces back up. That’s what we want to see in our families and in our children. We don’t want to try to prevent our children from facing difficulties. Rather, we want them to learn how to be resilient in the midst of difficulties. 

To do that, we need to model and lead our families in a resilient lifestyle. Here are some things that you can do for yourself and your family:

  1. Optimism – be positive in the midst of difficult situations. Have the attitude that things will get better. 
  2. Fear – instead of avoiding those things you are afraid of, face your fears and work to overcome them so that you control your fear rather than the fear controlling you. 
  3. Right and Wrong – instill in the family that you are doing the right thing no matter how hard it is or what the outcome! For example, you may live in a difficult location but you are convinced that this is where you should be for this time.
  4. Faith – draw on your spirituality. Your faith can get you through difficult times no matter how hard your circumstances. Trust that God is with you in the difficulty. 
  5. Social Support – sharing your difficulty with other trusted friends helps lighten the burden. Just knowing that others are sharing the burden can help with the feeling that you are alone. 
  6. Role Models – study those that you admire and learn from them on how they made it through difficult times.
  7. Body – take care of your body through sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet.
  8. Flexibility – accept those things that you cannot change and work on those things that you can change. 

As parents model these things and encourage your children to do the same. Children will have more resilience to bend when things get difficult without breaking. 

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