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Building Resilience

posted Feb 23, 2015, 11:49 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Feb 24, 2015, 12:31 AM ]
How do you help your child face the same server who aced her three times already in the game? What will help your young volleyball player keep hitting the ball when she's already made two hitting errors in a row? How can you help your player keep playing after her team goes winless for the day? 

Resiliency is not necessarily something you can teach your kids. It’s not an athletic skill that can be learned. But it is a trait that we all are born with to some degree, a trait which can be nurtured or squelched as a child grows up. Some athletes seem to bounce back easily, while others learn resiliency as they mature. How can you water that resiliency seed in your child? 

Let Her Learn to Figure Things Out 
It is most likely every parent’s first instinct to rescue a child when there is a hint of difficulty. But next time your young athlete faces a problem, swallow that urge just for a few minutes, and ask your child what she thinks she should do about the situation. By asking strategic questions, you can guide her to a solution that will actually be her idea. Armed with the power of knowing she can find her own solutions gives her the strength to bounce back. 

Applaud Your Child’s Process 
In a recent study, Dr. Elizabeth Gunderson says that parents should praise their kids on their strategies, jobs they did well, and their effort. Her team calls this “process praise” and concluded that the more process praise kids get during early childhood, the more likely they would become resilient. 
  • Focus on strategies: I like how you read the defense and saw where to hit the ball. 
  • Focus on a job well-done: That pass was right on target! 
  • Focus on effort: Your hard work is really starting to pay off; you’re much quicker on the court! 
Remind Your Athlete that Slumps are Part of the Game 
If your child struggles with bouncing back after making mistakes in her game, remind them that going through a slump is no reflection of her skills and abilities. It happens to every athlete, even in the pros. No one can stay on top 100% of the time. A real athlete understands that and learns to push through the slump.

It’s not fun to watch your child struggle, fail, and suffer discouragement, but when you nurture her resiliency, you will see her learn to bounce back on her own.
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