Resilience in families

Given that a big part of how we can promote resilience is about our environment and relationships, it makes sense that resilient families can help to produce resilient kids.

Studies into resilient families have identified six common characteristics:

  1. commitment to the family
  2. appreciation and affection for each other
  3. positive communication patterns
  4. spending quality time together
  5. a sense of connection to something bigger than your family – this can include community, spiritual, religious, sporting or other groups
  6. family unity and the ability to successfully manage stress and crisis

Encouraging resilience in your family

What can you do to build resilience in your family? There are heaps of positive things you can try – check out the suggestions below for some ideas to get you started. You might be able to think of more!

  • Allow children and young people to practice making decisions for themselves and the wider family. This provides a challenge and helps them develop age-appropriate autonomy.
  • Focus on their strengths and skills, and tell them what they’re doing well. Provide plenty of opportunities to succeed.
  • Be an active listener. Let kids know that you care and are there for them if they need someone to talk to.
  • Set clear, realistic boundaries for children’s behaviour and model these expectations within the family.
  • Role model skills such as conflict resolution and accountability. When there’s a disagreement, show your kids how to reach a compromise.
  • Don’t blame others. Own your mistakes and use these as a learning opportunity.
  • Listen to and respect the opinions of others, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Make everyone in the family responsible for different tasks. Even very young kids can help with things like tidying up.
  • Show affection and compassion…and give out plenty of hugs.
  • Encourage the whole family to get actively involved in the community and have regular contact with friends, neighbours, teachers and activity groups.
  • Help kids to think positively and see that challenges can be overcome. For example, if your child is frustrated by a difficult puzzle, say, "I know that puzzle was hard today, but yesterday I saw you get a hard puzzle out. You kept trying until you found the right place to put the pieces." Keep applying this principle as kids get older to help them work through problems and issues.
  • Arrange a fun child-friendly activity each week like a trip to the park, play date with a friend or watching a favourite movie. Regular ‘ups’ provide a bank of positive emotions to buffer against life’s ‘downs’. 

If your family is facing big changes or challenges, such as loss, family breakup or relocation, your children, young people and other members in the family might need some extra support.

Check out our suggestions for practical things you can do at home, and make sure you seek professional support if you need it. 

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