How To Help Your Teen Build Resilience And Bounce Back From Difficult Situations
Resilience is an important life skill that helps people cope with adversity and bounce back from challenging situations. It’s difficult to know how to talk to your teen about resilience.
They’re forming their own identity, which can be confusing – for both parent and child!
They’re at a developmental stage full of changes and awareness. And they aren’t always receptive to what you have to say.
You want your teens to be able to:
- Know how to respond to conflict and negative experiences
- Regulate their emotions
- Make good decisions
- Bounce back from hard situations
- Be successful in life
Resilience plays a key role in all of this, yet it can be hard to talk to teens about it. We know this stage of parenting isn’t always easy. Today we’re going to discuss how you can help your teen build resilience and give you some resources to support you in this process.
How To Start Talking To Your Teen About Resilience
Why is it so hard to talk to your teen about resilience?
Developmentally, teens rely on their amygdala (the processing center for emotions) to inform their decisions and problem-solve because their prefrontal cortex (logical decision-making brain) isn’t fully developed. Since the amygdala deals with our “fight or flight” response, your teen may seem defensive or avoidant when you try to talk to them about their emotions or the challenges they face.1
A first great step in talking about resilience with your teen is by opening up the dialogue about what resilience is. Introduce the word to them! Explain why developing this skill will help them become more successful and independent.
Not exactly sure how to do this? The best way is to give real-life examples. Life is full of important decisions and your teen has watched you make many of them. Talk to them about the decisions that you’ve made in life and share examples of times when you’ve shown resilience.
This will help give your teen a practical understanding of why they should build resilience. It means so much when the advice comes from someone they know and trust.
Opening up the dialogue may mean uncomfortable feelings for you, too. As a parent asking for openness from your child means you must be open as well. We teach our children a lot, but they can teach us so much, too!
Supporting Your Teen Through Tough Times
Teens have big emotions and sometimes it’s hard to support them. Your fully formed, adult brain thinks: “You’re really upset over this?”
It’s important to take a step back from the situation and become a curious observer of their behavior. Try to remember when you were a teenager. Remember your first breakup felt like the end of the world? Or how about when your best friend moved away? At the time, they were monumental moments in your life.
Here are a few easy ways you can support your teen and help them build resilience.
Offer Warm, Non-judgemental Connections
The best way to help your teen build resilience is to offer a listening ear. When they are willing to accept help, that’s usually exactly what they’re looking for because they want to feel seen and heard.
Here are some easy ways to offer warm, non-judgemental connections:2
- Hold space for them to openly share what’s on their mind and what they’re feeling
- Help them identify their emotions
- Validate their feelings, let them know it’s ok they feel this way
- Connect what they’re going through to a positive coping skill
- Let them know you’ll problem-solve together and that you’re going to be there for them during tough times
Give your teen positive reinforcement when they demonstrate resilience or make progress towards overcoming obstacles in life – no matter how small those successes may seem at first. Point out specific actions they took so they recognize the strategies that work best for them. People are reward-motivated, especially teens. Praise them for being curious, brave, and kind. Whether your teen admits it or not, they appreciate (and need) your encouragement and support.
Document Achievements and Success
Writing down and keeping track of achievements can help your teen build resilience and confidence.
Encourage your teen to write down:
- Any step they took to bounce back from a difficult situation
- Any positive coping mechanism they used
This can be a helpful way to boost their confidence and help them see what works for them when dealing with a difficult situation.
Help them pick out a journal – it could be guided if they need help expressing their thoughts, or blank if that feels too limiting. Or, it could be online if they prefer.
Allowing this to be a practice they can do privately gives your teen a sense of autonomy plus support from you. Teens need a balance of guidance and supported autonomy to both learn and feel confident in their learning.1
Build Resilience By Reframing Failure
Remind your teenager that everyone experiences failure but there are always ways to learn from these moments. Reframing failure and changing their mindset about it, helps them learn to be better problem solvers.
Reframe a perceived failure as:
- Steps to future success
- A learning experience
- A door opening to something new
- Motivation to work through challenges to meet their goal
A key part of developing resilience is to find solutions rather than dwell on negative feelings like anger or frustration. This allows your teen to move forward from obstacles quickly and with a sense of clarity for the future.
A perceived failure can make teens feel like their life is over. Remember the list of accomplishments we talked about earlier? This is a great time to look at it. Seeing proof of what they did right can help them increase confidence and self-esteem.
Remind your teen that there’s value in learning from each experience. Every failure presents new opportunities for growth as long as they don’t look through a lens of shame. Shame keeps us attached to what didn’t go right, preventing us from looking for what could go right instead.
In the same way, openness between you and your teen goes both ways, so does letting go of shame. If you shame yourself, your teen learns to do the same. If you shame your teen, they will shame themselves. Modeling this behavior for them is a great practice because they will learn from you.
Parents Need Support, Too
Are you overwhelmed? Are you having a hard time holding the emotional space necessary to teach your teens resilience?
Whole Family Neurofeedback is here to support you.
Your kids are precious to you and you want what’s best for them. You want to be the best version of yourself for them but it can be hard.
Whole Family Neurofeedback helps people powerfully, naturally, and effectively deal with the stresses and struggles of everyday life. We educate families about neurofeedback and give parents support in our Facebook group for parents.
What Is Neurofeedback?
Whole Family Neurofeedback helps families learn more about neurofeedback, a powerful brain training tool that can help your teen:3
- Enhance their ability to relax and stay calm in uncertainty
- Promotes a better night’s rest
- Improve their problem-solving skills
- Helps their ability to breathe more fully and slowly – aiding in relaxation
- Increase their ability to slow down before reacting
- Promote mental and emotional resilience
Neurofeedback can help your whole family learn resilience without the pressure of appointments, diagnoses, or medication.
During a training session, you’ll simply listen to music or watch a movie. When a sudden change is detected, there is a brief pause in what you’re listening to. That simple pause is like a reset for the brain – bringing you back to the present moment.
If you’re interested in getting parenting support and learning more about neurofeedback, join our Facebook group: Neurofeedback Moms (Dads are welcome, too!)
In our community you’ll get:
- Research-based information to help you make the best decisions for your family
- Live sessions with experts in the therapeutic, neurofeedback, and parenting fields
- Lifetime access to all live recordings – watch at your convenience!
- Education about at-home neurofeedback and its benefits
- Support from other parents
Join Neurofeedback Moms today!