Gamechanger: Understanding Resilience
For the kid with ADHD, the impact of being resilient—or not being resilient—is felt every single day, by them, by you, and by lots of other people in their lives. And it’s a mixed bag.
Every time we’re presented with a stressful challenge or an obstacle, we have an opportunity to exercise and apply the “skill” of resilience.
Being able to bounce back when life deals you a blow, is one of the most important skills children with ADHD need to learn.
At Esteem, we want to give you hope, encourage you, and build your confidence. That’s why we’re committed to providing you with guidance and tools that will help you understand and easily foster resilience in your child.
Whether you realize this or not, you’ve been developing the skill of resilience for most of your life. And this is what helps us persevere when things get hard.
With ADHD, your child is probably dealing with stressful situations and setbacks all the time, and they keep going, which means they’ve developed some resilience. That’s good.
But… emotional regulation can be difficult with ADHD, which may mean your kid melts down or goes negative and is actually less resilient. That’s less good.
And…struggling with focus and attention can mean your child’s first instinct is to move on when things are frustrating or hard, which could go either way, meaning your child is more resilient or maybe actually less resilient.
Confused? You’re not alone!
So if being resilient will make life better, where does it come from and how can we help our kids develop it?
What is Resilience?
We need resilience because of stress. And we all know about stress. Experts define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” When it comes to our kids, we don’t want them to face trauma, tragedy, adversity or significant sources of stress, but with ADHD, they already are (and so are you), but it isn’t all bad. A little adversity helps kids build resilience, and helping them build resilience with things they are facing now will provide a solid foundation for them when the bigger storms of life hit. Learning to persevere when challenges arise and problem solve when confronted with unexpected setbacks will give them an invaluable skill and set them up for future success across the board.
The good news is resilience is a skill that can be developed and nurtured in children with ADHD, you just need to be aware of the opportunities hiding in plain sight. Resilience can be built—even without us noticing—through a pretty typical cycle, one that you and your child probably experience multiple times a day. The cycle begins when a “traumatic” or challenging event occurs, which could range from losing homework or failing a test to being bullied. They will experience stress, and they’ll respond both emotionally and physiologically. At this point, if they consistently receive your reassurance and guidance and/or support from teachers or friends jumping in with encouragement, it’s possible for them to calm down and stabilize their emotions. Learning to then assess the situation, problem solve for workable solutions, and set small goals can lead to positive outcomes for the stress cycle. Experts say this entire process builds resilience because it encourages the child to be solution-oriented in the face of challenge and reinforces that external support systems are all around them, making stress potentially a good thing. Who knew?
Qualities of a Resilient Child
Esteem is here to help you coach your child through the stress that will lead to resilience and to provide ideas and suggestions on how to boost resilience even when we’re not in a stress cycle. Once you know what to look for and how to effectively address it, you’ll discover opportunities to provide the reassurance and guidance your kid needs to build their resilience muscle. The result will be a child who is learning to adapt positively despite setbacks and one who sees challenges as learning opportunities. They can become optimistic and hopeful, and keep things in perspective. They will learn to persevere and even thrive in the face of challenges, disappointments, and difficulties, and they’ll find alternative ways to handle unexpected setbacks or roadblocks. All of these things can become reality when we foster resilience in our kids.
That’s a game changer.
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AAP. (2019). The Resilience Project. We can stop toxic stress. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/resilience/Pages/Promoting-Resilience.aspx.
AAP. (2019). The Road to Resilience. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.
Ministry of Education Singapore. Resilience Boosters Infographic.
Petersen, N. (2016). ADHD and Resilience. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 2, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-millennial/2016/10/adhd-and-resilience/