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How Can I Build Resiliency in My Teenager?

As parents, we want to help our teens learn the best ways to cope with life’s ups and downs. Everyone will face uncertainty, sadness, disappointment, and loss at some point in life. When teenagers experience many of these issues for the first time, they may not be equipped to cope or move past them without our guidance. When our kids learn to be resilient, they can recover quickly from setbacks. They can “bounce back” from adversity and difficulty. Teens who develop resilience can become healthy and well-adjusted adults who can get through anything regardless of what life throws at them.

Fire Mountain Residential Treatment’s Aaron Huey and Dr. Hans Watson discuss resiliency in the podcast “Building Resiliency in Teens” on “Beyond Risk and Back.” They define “resiliency” and provide tips for how your kids can develop a resilient mindset in their recovery. Kids need to be exposed to things that help them develop the skills they need to overcome adversity later in life. We can introduce our kids to activities that can help them develop resiliency while they are growing up. 

The Power of Sports and Competition

When our kids play sports or engage in other competitive activities, what are some of the life lessons that they can learn? We might not think of the skills they develop. Some skills are easily observed and rather overt. For example, kids playing sports can develop athletic skills, get exercise, and learn team-building skills. Competitive activities, whether they are sports, games, or academic debate teams, can teach our kids how to fail successfully. To build resiliency, our kids need to fail in safe environments, where the stakes matter, but don’t negatively impact their well-being. 

Successful Failure and Resiliency

Failing to achieve an outcome in a sporting event or other competition can teach our kids how to be okay with failure. If our kids run away from their failures or shut down due to an upset, they might experience difficulty with building a resilient and healthy mindset. When our kids fail at something, we can guide them to find a healthy balance of making mistakes, learning from them, and getting back out there. We might write off the activities that our kids do as “no big deal” or just “fun and games;” however, human beings learn through activities. 

The Importance of Play 

When we are children, we pretend and play make-believe while discovering our personality through different roles. We make up stories that help us develop our thoughts about the world. We might pretend that we are in “danger” during some of our playful activities, like being captured in a dungeon or confronting a dragon. These activities expose us to exciting emotions and dangerous situations, while we are still completely safe. 

When we enter our teen years, we start to get out more into real-world scenarios, yet we do not have much relative risk. While we play sports or compete in academia, if we fail, we will not lose our means of sustenance or our homes. The real-life implications for striking out at a baseball game or getting an “F” on an exam can be relatively minimal. These are teachable opportunities for our kids to experience the emotions of failure without having devastating consequences. These are the opportunities for us to help our kids develop resiliency.

Preparing Your Kids to Protect Themselves

As parents, we want to protect our children from experiencing any harm or getting their feelings hurt. We might have the instinct to shield them from the outside world. When our kids fail at something, we might want to swiftly rush in and fix the issue. We might also hold our kids back from confronting anything that they fear. While our intentions are good, we need to remember that we are not raising kids so much as we are raising the adults that they will become. Our kids will grow up; they will need to provide for themselves without our interference. We can help our kids prepare for the challenges of life by teaching them to protect themselves. 

By teaching our kids to face their fears and learn from failure, we are giving them the chance to protect their self-worth and self-perception. When we shield our kids from their fears or allow them to give up due to failure, we are unintentionally sending the message that they are limited by their fears or defined by their failures. We cannot protect our kids from the emotional sting of failure or the anxiety of facing their fears. However, we can teach them how to build resiliency by overcoming their greatest obstacles to achieve their goals.

Your child can learn to become a resilient adult by developing the ability to cope with failure and face their fears. As parents, we have the instinct to protect our children. We can encourage our kids to face situations where they will fail or confront fears safely. Kids can learn to face failure by playing sports or engaging in other competitive activities. These activities have the benefit of exposing our kids to failure without dire consequences. They can learn to handle their emotions when the stakes are low. When children grow up, they will need to handle failure to continue moving forward toward their goals. If they shut down or never try things again after a setback, they may learn to become helpless. If your child is struggling with problematic behaviors, like addiction, defiance, cutting, promiscuity, or other issues, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center can help you. We can teach kids to overcome their issues to become resilient young adults. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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