How to help your child manage anxiety and build resilience
New research has revealed the importance of building resilience and other coping skills in children to help their mental wellbeing and success at school.
Mental health problems can affect a child’s education and wellbeing, but there are things parents can do to support their children from a young age.
New research, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), has highlighted the need for resilience and coping-skills training to help prevent increasing mental health disorders in children, which have been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
MCRI Professor Harriet Hiscock says about 50 per cent of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, begin before the age of 14 years.
“Prevention and early intervention are paramount if we want to reduce lifetime prevalence of mental-health disorders and allow children to live their best possible lives,” she says.
Being a role model
Along with more training and resources for school staff, Hiscock says there are ways parents can help their children as well.
“We have a big role to play in supporting our kids,” she says. “One way is to model the things we want from our children. If we want empathy, we need to model empathy.
“For example, next time you are in a traffic queue, and someone is annoying you, rather than mouthing off, maybe say, 'This is a bit frustrating, but the traffic will move, and we will get to where we need to get to.”
Learning from failure
She says allowing children to experience failure helps build resilience and teaches them that the world doesn’t fall apart if they, say, hand their homework in late or they don’t get something right.
“From an early stage, when we play games with kids, it’s about not always letting them win. That is how you start to build resilience.
“As kids get a bit older, and they have problems, rather than rushing to their defence and saying, ‘That’s awful,’ try to brainstorm with them: 'What could you do differently next time?' That all starts to build their problem-solving skills and resilience.”