Published: 11 December 2019
An extract from Alcohol and Drugs: A Parent’s Guide – Practical advice to help you communicate with your child about alcohol and other drugs. The guide has been created by askaboutalcohol.ie and is available to download or order free of charge.
What is resilience?
Resilience is developed when children are guided and supported to know how to manage and cope with situations so that they do not become overwhelmed. Resilience helps us to cope and ‘bounce back’ from difficult times, recover and move on.
Research has shown that children who are resilient are less likely to be involved in problem alcohol or other drug use. They tend to have better self-esteem, do better in school and have better relationships.
Skills to Build Resilience
- Being aware of your feelings is really important
Strong feelings can be overwhelming for young people. Anxiety or sadness leave them feeling powerless. Hurt and resentment can make them feel angry or even violent.
- Help your child by asking them how they feel regularly and help them to recognise their feelings
“You seem a bit grumpy. Are you upset about the teacher blaming you?” “How are you feeling about your friend leaving?” “Are you feeling low?” “You must have felt really hurt when that happened.” “Did that make you feel angry?”
- Learning to recognise and name our feelings is a skill we can learn
This can help us to manage our emotions better.
- Understand problems
This means taking some time to accurately get to the bottom of what is causing a problem. It makes it easier to find a solution, accept things we can’t change and avoid blaming ourselves.
Encourage them to do things that help them to feel good and cope better, like taking exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, having time to relax and enjoy themselves and having good relationships with friends and family.
- Give yourself thinking time - really slow down
Don’t act on impulse. Practise thinking about your options and what might happen as a result of each choice before you act. Encourage your child to do the same. Then, when you, or they, need to, you will be able to take that time to think.
- Show empathy
Empathy is understanding what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. Encourage your child to think about how other people might be feeling or why they are behaving in a certain way.
- Believe in their ability
Show your child you have faith in their ability to get through difficult times and remind them of their strengths. Support them to solve their own problems and to be successful, rather than doing things for them. Praise them when they do well.
- Stay hopeful (optimistic)
Being optimistic doesn’t mean being blind to reality or pretending things are different from how they really are. It means finding a way to be hopeful and look for positives. Remind your child that difficult times will pass and that sometimes when things go wrong or don’t go to plan, something good and unexpected can happen.
- Ask for help
Asking for what we want or need, or being able to say how we are feeling, and why, are powerful skills. Emphasise how important it is for your child to tell someone and get help if they feel they’re not coping. Advise them to talk to a friend or trusted adult, if they don’t want to talk to you. You could also let them know about some of the places they can go to for help listed in the back of this booklet.
Alcohol and Drugs: A Parent's Guide
All the advice you need to help you communicate with your child about alcohol and other drugs.