Some people are able to quickly bounce back from personal setbacks or failures, while others struggle and find it much more difficult? Just like physical strength can be increased through lifting weights and physical training, you can increase your mental strength by practicing specific mental techniques. Just like adults, kids need to practice increasing their mental strength, too. Mentally strong kids are able to tackle problems, bounce back from failure, and cope with life’s challenges and hardships. They demonstrate the resilience, courage and confidence needed to reach their full potential!
Here are 10 strategies to help kids develop the strength they need to become a mentally strong adult:
1. Teach Specific Skills
Rather than making kids suffer for their mistakes, discipline should be about teaching kids how to do better next time. Instead of punishment, use consequences that teach useful skills, such as problem-solving and impulse control.
2. Let Your Child Make Mistakes
Mistakes are inevitable! Teach your child that truth and that they shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed about getting something wrong.
3. Teach Your Child How to Develop Healthy Self-Talk
It’s important to help children develop a realistic and optimistic outlook on life, and how to reframe negative thoughts when they arise. Learning this skill early in life will help them persevere through difficult times.
4. Encourage Your Child to Face Fears Head-On
Enabling a child to face their fears head-on will help them gain invaluable confidence. One way to do this is to teach your child to step outside of their comfort zone and face their fears one small step at a time while praising and rewarding their efforts.
5. Allow Your Child to Feel Uncomfortable
It can be tempting to soothe or rescue your child whenever they are struggling, but it’s important to allow them to sometimes lose or struggle, and insist that they are responsible even when they don’t want to be. Dealing with small struggles on their own can help children to build their mental strength.
6. Build Character
Children with a strong moral compass and value system will be better able to make healthy decisions. You can help by instilling values, such as honesty and compassion, and creating learning opportunities that regularly reinforce these values.
7. Make Gratitude a Priority
Practicing gratitude is one of the greatest things you can do for your mental health, and it’s no different for children. Gratitude helps us to keep things in perspective, even during the most challenging times.
8. Affirm Personal Responsibility
Accepting responsibility for your actions or mistakes is also part of building mental strength. If your child blames others for the way he/she thinks, feels or behaves, simply steer them away from excuses and allow for explanations.
9. Teach Emotion Regulation Skills
Instead of soothing or calming down your child every time they are upset, teach them how to deal with uncomfortable emotions on their own so that they don’t grow dependent on you to regulate their mood. Children who understand their range of feelings and have experience dealing with them are better prepared to deal with the ups and downs of life.
10. Be a Role Model for Mental Strength
There’s no better way to teach a child than by example. To encourage mental strength in your child, you must demonstrate mental strength. Show them that you make self-improvement a priority in your life, and talk about your goals and steps you take to grow stronger.
MCCS offers lots of resources, programs and assistance that can help you, your kids and your family to develop mental toughness. When your family is facing setbacks, challenges, or stressors or you just want to increase your mental toughness for future challenges, our Family Care team is here! Check out the resources and services of Child and Youth Programs, EFMP, or School Liaison and let’s build those mental muscles together.
*Article draws from published work of Amy Morin, PhD.