How to build resilience in teenagers

How to build resilience in teenagersHow to build resilience in teenagers

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the benefits of building resilience in young people. Facing a critical time in their social and emotional development, establishing skills for resilience in teenagers is especially important.

Resilience is the ability to cope with challenges and difficult circumstances. More than this, though, it is the ability to overcome these circumstances, finding new and positive ways to achieve your goals.

According to a report on child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing, one in seven young Australians have experienced a mental health condition. While mental health issues stem from a multitude of medical and social influences far beyond the challenges of adolescent life and the schoolyard, the ramifications are clear. Children need to be equipped to deal with challenging circumstances.

In early childhood, preparing children to be resilient comes down to identifying emotions and equipping children with the skills to deal with these feelings. Children will naturally imitate adult mentors and so how we behave and deal with our emotions is vital in our position as role models.

However, supporting teenagers to build resilience skills is an entirely different kettle of fish. Adolescents will face far greater challenges and will have to navigate issues that will have a more significant bearing on their life.

There are a number of ways parents can help build resilience in teenagers.

  1. Problem solving skills – Help your child fully understand the problem they are facing and then work together to find a solution, focusing on the processes and strategies you have tried. Knowing what tools and strategies can be used to problem solve is more important than the solution itself.
  2. Adopt a growth mindset – How you interpret challenges and criticism is a choice. Successful people generally have a growth mindset. That is, they can see past a difficult or challenging situation as well as their own limitations and make a concerted choice to take a positive action to expand themselves and their abilities overcome obstacles.
  3. Build confidence – Teenagers are in a time of their lives when they will naturally question their self-worth. Building confidence and teaching your child to have self-respect will go a long way in developing resilience skills. Giving your teenager opportunities to try new things, encouraging them to persist and allowing them to make mistakes will help your child to grow in confidence. Praising effort rather than achievement is another practical confidence booster.
  4. Promote independence – Adolescents crave independence! While we may be inclined to tighten the reigns as our teenagers become more autonomous, independence is a vital life-skill. Teenagers need freedom to make new discoveries and navigate important decisions, within the parameters of clear family expectations. Some safe ways for your teenager to exercise independence include joining a youth group or sporting organisation and pursuing a part-time job.
  5. Encourage positive thinking – It’s really important to teach your children to keep things in perspective. While a situation might seem life-altering on the surface, encourage your teenager to carefully consider just how bad a situation really is. Talking about happy memories, spending time with friends or loved ones, putting someone else’s needs above your own are simple actions that you can take to promote a more positive outlook.

Next week, we will be hosting a resilience workshop to promote adolescent wellbeing and help parents to support their teenagers to cope with challenges better. To register your interest please email

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