Inner Strength Overview
Inner Strength is another word for resilience which is the ability to cope even during significant adversity. It is possible for children to be resilient in one set of circumstances but not in another. In this article, when we talk about inner strength or resilience, we are really referring to a child's typical average level. You can never assume a normally resilient person will cope with every situation nor will a usually not-so-resilient child crumble in every situation.
Children who are generally resilient can usually overcome the inevitable ups and down of life including significant life changing events such as divorce or death of a close family member. Also children have more chance of resisting peer pressure to take drugs, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.
The main thing parents or guardians can do is to build a high level of self esteem in their child primarily by making them feel safe and being unconditionally loving, caring and positive towards the child but also by encouraging talents and celebrating contributions the child can make to the family. See our other articles on 'SELF ESTEEM' and 'LOVE AND SUPPORT'.
Other things guardians can do is to allow a degree of independence. This starts with small things at a young age like putting on shoes, getting dressed and brushing their own hair.
Another absolute requirement is to be resilient yourself. Life always throws up inevitable dramas. If children see you coping and dealing with these in an admirable fashion then it will help reinforce the fact that any obstacle can be overcome. If you are stressed out, try to de-stress yourself (take 5 minutes out, listen to some classical music etc., do breathing exercises) and not let the situation control you. You must demonstrate resilience if you would like your children to do the same.
If children lack inner strength they are likely to be hugely affected by the inevitable traumas life will bring. This may lead to depression, self harm, over reliance on drugs or alcohol and, in the worst case, suicide.
Key Advantages of Inner Strength
There are many benefits of having a real inner strength which pervades the whole of a child's lives. It is a great trait to have and can improve their life in a significant way. Some of the advantages of being resilient are listed below:
- Ability to cope and remain positive even under extremely demanding circumstances
- Less likely to abuse drink or drugs
- More likely to be independent and come up with own solutions to life's issues
- More likely to make and keep good friends
- More likely to do better at school
- More likely to be able to maintain a healthy body weight
- Ability to remain calm in a stressful situation
- Less likely to suffer from stress related illnesses
What can I do to improve Inner Strength for my child?
The key thing is to improve the Self Esteem of your child. There are many ways of doing this but the most important is to love your children unconditionally and show them lots of support. Other important factors are encouraging their talents and letting them see that they can be better than their peers at some things. Giving them tasks or problems which are achievable but not easy and praising them when they achieve them can also help as well as progressively giving them more and more independence. Praising them for small insignificant things is not thought to make much difference.
Make sure you are always there for support if your child gets into any difficulties.
Improving a child's social skills also makes a difference because with good social skills and awareness of how to interact in a positive win-win way with people, children are likely to feel confident around people and also will help to win more friends plus have more opportunities to improve themselves.
Ensure your child is physically fit. Lots of exercise is good for the body and soul. Combine this with plenty of sleep and good nutrition and this can really help optimise your child's ability to cope with stress.
Be a positive person and always try and keep this attitude demonstrated at all times to your child. Be a role model for your child.
Encourage their relationships with positive people and discourage one's detrimental to their self esteem.
Children with a good level of Inner Strength (resilience) are able to cope with majorly stressful situations e.g. a marriage breakup or loss of a loved one without it completely destroying them and being a catalyst for them to 'self implode'. Of course, any major situation will be extremely hard, but ultimately they will come out the other side with their positivity still intact.
These activities were used to promote resilience to children affected by the Tsunami in 2004. Activities include 'Community Bingo', 'Pairs Interviews', 'Group Juggle', 'Hitchhiker', 'Catch the Ball with the Towel', 'Giant Jump Rope' and 'Giants, Wizards and Elves'.