Raising Resilient Children in a Technology-Driven World

By Sarah Norwood

Do you truly understand “resiliency”? Maybe you know someone who is resilient. Maybe you’ve been complimented for your resilience. To be resilient means that someone has the ability to get back up after failure or disappointment. When hard things happen, they don’t lie down and take it – they stand up and face it. Challenges come in all forms and resilience is a requirement for success. 

But what about resilience in a digital world? Life is hard enough as it is, and throwing media usage into the mix makes it even harder. Social media creates more distractions for us to deal with. These distractions make it increasingly important to teach kids to have a growth mindset, to create boundaries, and to use time effectively. Knowing how to navigate teaching resilience to your children in this context may seem a little tricky, but doing so certainly sets them up for success. Here are a few tips on how to begin.

First, parents can teach children to have a growth mindset. This means that parents can teach their children that they have the ability to work for and create change in themselves and the world around them. Social media portrays the opposite as it is full of opinions and images that can foster feelings of inadequacy, failure, and hopelessness. Labels are given and comparisons are made, which encourages a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. A fixed mindset fosters the belief that the world around us and the qualities we see in ourselves are unchangeable because “that’s just the way they are.” 

You can inspire a growth mindset in your child by praising them based on their efforts rather than the results, thereby encouraging a desire for further learning. Additionally, try replacing negative self-talk and comparisons with positive affirmations. However, it is okay to help your child recognize where improvements can be made. This helps them see that shortcomings and failures are learning opportunities that create possibilities for change (6seconds, 2019).

Second, create boundaries. Families flourish when healthy boundaries are formed. To be more specific, families are a system in which each member is affected by the way the system is run. Families whose boundaries are blurred often exhibit behaviors that limit family resilience (Raskin, 2019). Creating boundaries is especially important for children because they teach useful life skills that can often be overlooked in the digital age. Here are a few examples of the skills that boundaries teach:

a) Patience — The access that we have to information, opportunities, and other people is nearly instantaneous with the click of a button because of technology. This teaches the mentality that if we want something now, we can have it now. In reality, some things take time and require patience.

b) Resourcefulness — Knowing where to find information besides using technology, such as a library. 

c) Responsibility — Understanding that there are consequences to our actions and that what we do affects others, especially in the digital realm. 

d) Self-discipline — Following through with commitments to do something because you said you would. Technology has made it really easy to flake on commitments with a simple text (Innis, 2012).

Some examples of healthy boundaries that can be created are: 

  • Parents can create boundaries between themselves and their children when they refrain from discussions with their children about private aspects of their marital relationship. 
  • Parents can demonstrate boundaries by setting aside work and other obligations for specific family events such as family meals, children’s sporting events, and more.
  • Children can learn boundaries for themselves when they are given rules and guidelines about the time spent playing and using media.

Third, build strong relationships. Children thrive when they have a close, healthy relationship with at least one adult and when they have good role models in their lives. Find ways to surround your child with positive influences that they can look up to as they learn how to navigate the world. This can be done in several ways – a child’s baseball coach, church leader, or grandparent could be a positive influence in their life. Most importantly, parents have the largest impact on their children, so finding ways to spend quality time with your child is very helpful in building resiliency (Search Institute, 2019).

Fourth, teach your child how to use time effectively. Instead of relying on social media and Netflix to entertain your child (and yourself), try something new. Urge your children to enroll in extracurricular activities with school that they might enjoy. Go to sporting events, join clubs within the community, go to church, and find ways to serve your neighbors. On a smaller scale, you can help your children spend time wisely by encouraging reading and creativity. Don’t be afraid to assign chores so that they can learn the value of hard work. These options teach your children that there are ways to get out into the community that are fun and that teach valuable lessons (Search Institute, 2019).

Our world is full of negative influences that are easier to experience because of the easy access to technology and media. Regardless of how children face failure and disappointment, they learn to face those challenges as they are taught resilience. They can get back up when they fall, and they’ll have you to thank for their strength.

For more ideas on how to help your child build resilience, check out our book 30 Days to a Stronger Child, which provides activities and discussions you can have together that will strengthen your child and your relationship with each other.

Sarah Norwood is a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho majoring in Marriage and Family Studies. After graduating, she plans to earn a master’s degree in Counseling. Her hobbies include reading, learning, and eating delicious food. She and her husband live in Texas where they enjoy spending time together and exploring the outdoors.

Citations

Innis, G. (2012, May 6). Boundaries and expectations are important parenting tools. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/boundaries_and_expectations_are_important_parenting_tools#:~:text=expected%20of%20them%E2%80%9D.-,Setting%20boundaries%20and%20expectations%20for%20children%20can%20assist%20in%20building,%2C%20responsibility%20and%20self%2Ddiscipline. 

Miller, M. (2021, May 3). 9 ways to teach a growth mindset to kids. Six Seconds. https://www.6seconds.org/2019/02/18/9-ways-to-teach-a-growth-mindset-to-kids/ 

Raskin, J. D. (2019). Chapter 2. In Abnormal psychology contrasting perspectives (1st ed., pp. 65–65). Red Globe Press. 

The developmental assets framework. Search Institute. (2019, November 5). https://www.search-institute.org/our-research/development-assets/developmental-assets-framework/ 

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