Focus on autonomy and responsibility

Autonomy and responsibility play an important role in building children’s resilience. You can encourage your children to take on responsibilities and develop a sense of autonomy.

It’s important to remember that as parents, it’s natural for us to want to protect our children from negative experiences, but it’s important not to shield them completely from life’s challenges. Working through difficulties and problems – with adult support as required – will give your child a chance to learn about themselves, develop resilience, and grow as a person.


Some examples of how you might do this:

Build your child's independence

Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Build your child’s autonomy and independence. For example, encourage your child to dress themselves or give money to a shopkeeper – gradually increase the complexity of the tasks as your child builds their independence.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Build your child’s autonomy and independence. You could encourage your child to prepare their own school lunch or contribute to cooking the family meal – gradually increase the complexity of the tasks as your child builds their independence.

Talk to your child about problem solving

Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Talk to your child about how they might address a problem, rather than rushing in to solve the problem for them. For example, ask your child what he/she might do if they wish to play with the toy that another child is playing with.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Talk to your child about how they might address a problem, rather than rushing in to solve the problem for them. For example, ask your child what they might do if they forget their lunchbox, so the child doesn’t have to rely on their parents to deliver the lunchbox to school. 

Allow your child to make decisions

Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Give your child opportunities to make meaningful decisions. For example, give choices and allow your child to select their preference. For example, allow them to decide the order in which certain things will be done, or which book they want to read.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Talk to your child about how he/she can develop strategies for dealing with difficult situations. For example, help your child to develop a plan for when they feel left out of a friendship group, of if they are feeling stressed about school tests. Remind your child of all the people around them who can help. Encouraging your child to come up with their own solutions helps them to learn problem solving. 

Provide opportunities for free play

Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Provide opportunities for free play – open ended and improvised play – such as building blocks, playing with teddies or action figures, or painting on blank paper are great examples of free play for young children.

Primary school aged kids (612 year olds)

Provide your child with opportunities to make meaningful decisions. For example, let them decide how they want to arrange their bedroom, or what they want to do as an end of year celebration. 

Being bored is not necessarily bad

Primary school aged kids (612 year olds)

Being bored occasionally is not necessarily bad for children. Your child may come up with their own ideas (such as devising a new game or building a cubby house). These occasions help children develop their sense of autonomy. 

Be a role model for your child

Be a role model for your child. Try to model 'healthy thinking'* when facing challenges of your own. You can do this by thanking other people for their support, and saying, “Things will get better soon. I can cope with this”. This shows that you expect that good things are possible. You can also role model calm and rational problem-solving when something doesn’t go as expected. Talk out loud the thought process you are having in solving a problem. Your child can see what problem-solving looks like, and also that the problem can be worked through in a calm way to find a solution.

 

* Healthy thinking means looking at life and the world in a balanced way (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2011). Healthy thinking teaches children to know how their thoughts (both helpful and unhelpful) affect problems or feelings in everyday life. With practice, children can learn to use accurate thoughts that encourage them instead of negative thoughts that discourage them.

boy in puddle


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