‘Resilience is built by FACING FEAR, not avoiding it’
GH’S Professor Tanya Byron shares her advice on how to increase your resilience reserves and raise emotionally strong children
For a long time, a person’s level of resilience was thought to be inherited, but it is now recognised that nurture plays a significant role in the ability to recover from adversity.
In our current climate of rolling news, we’re being drip-fed uncertainty, threat, and trauma. This encourages ‘helicopter parenting’ – parents hovering around children and monitoring their every move in a bid to brush every obstacle from their path. This means children are being raised in a risk-averse society, with little opportunity to learn how to manage adversity.
Resilience is built by facing fear, not avoiding it. It stems from taking risks and treating mistakes as learning tools. To arm the younger generation with the skills to navigate an uncertain world, we must encourage them to take reasonable risks.
Cognitive therapy techniques can help us to detect inaccurate thoughts that make us catastrophise. Challenge negative beliefs (‘I’m useless’) with realistic alternatives based on evidence of past resilience (‘I’ve managed other adversities’). Mindfulness is useful in developing resilience. By paying attention to the present moment, you can tap into your physiological response to fear, and critically evaluate the experience.
We need to get children to take risks