Building resilience in children

Resilient children have the potential to become resilient adults but what does the word resilient really mean and how can it apply to our children?

“Resilience is the ability to feel happy and successful after something difficult or bad had happened”

When we are talking about resilience in children we are referring to their ability to cope with ups and downs and to bounce back from challenges they experience in their own childhood. This is something that has to be built through supportive relationships, taking responsibility, creating challenges and the handling of emotions. How can we as parents put our children into challenging situations and expect them to handle their emotions when our instincts tell us to protect our children from harm, comfort them and help them whenever possible? Naturally building resilience can go against our human instinct as parents but that is where sport and I believe the sport of CrossFit can come into play.

Lets start with building relationships. When a child enters our box the first thing we want them to feel is safe and welcome. This is first done through the support and guidance from the coach who then takes them through the class structure. When training in a partner workout or team workout they will feel the support of their training partners and learn the importance of working together. At the end of every WOD we teach them to support each other by the simple rule that the workout is over when everyone is finished. This is initiated by the coach and joining them will be the other kids in the class who stand beside each other supporting until the last one has finished. The workout is done when everyone is done!

After a safe environment has been created we believe that the next factor to creating resilience in our kids is to first develop self confidence. This will be done through positive coaching and through a step by step process of teaching movements. Through a gradually build up and practise they see for themselves that they can start to do the movements. Self confidence is not only being able to do something but also when a child is willing to give it a try. It is not only believing that they can do it but also knowing that their best effort is good enough.

Everyone who has experienced CrossFit knows that it is hard and we have all faced our own challenges no matter what level of fitness you may have. This also applies to the kids classes, it is not easy and it is not designed to be easy but our idea is that if they stick with it and keep coming back that eventually they will get better and be able to do new stuff again and again. Of course children do not see long term goals or have a lot of interest in this process so we disguise this process by making it FUN!!!!!! We are now taking them step by step, creating challenges, building confidence and having fun along the way. In this process there will be moments of frustration, fear, doubt but it is a fact that our children do need to face these emotions in order to learn how to deal with them. Sport is full of emotions. Moments of extreme happiness to moments extreme disappointment, moments of anger and fear to moments of feeling fulfilled. When children are in a safe, supportive and positive environment these emotions can be handled at their best.

Resilience is important for our children’s mental heath. Children with greater resilience are better able to manage stress and hopefully this will give them the tools to carry into adulthood to help them with “life”.