How to Help Young Adults to Become More Resilient
Maybe you’ve got a college student who has been living in your Lake Oswego home. They were struggling while away at school with CoVid learning protocols, and now you have to sit with them to make sure work is getting done.
Or maybe you have a young adult in Tualatin who has graduated, but is struggling to figure out what to do next. Your kid wants to work, but doesn’t seem to be able to get the applications filled out. Or networking emails sent. They spend the day hiding in a bedroom and failing to launch.
They are struggling with low self-esteem. And fear of failing.
As a parent, you want to be helpful, but you’re not sure how. What should you next steps be?
This is where your child could benefit from resiliency.
Here are a few tips that you can take to help your young adult develop a stronger sense of resiliency.
Tip #1 to Help Young Adults Build Resiliency — Presence is Powerful:
Who you are when around your developing adult is important. If you feel anxious with what they are doing, they will recognize it. If you feel stress out that your child isn’t accomplishing what you want, they will likely feel shame.
Being able to regulate your own emotions while interacting with your developing adult will be so important. You don’t want to make them feel or experience any more shame or guilt than they are already feeling.
And if you are married and want to develop your presence as a team, marriage counseling could be an excellent investment to gain tools and walk through the journey or supporting your young person together.
Tip #2 to Help Young Adults Build Resiliency — Give Them Space to Make Decisions:
I know. You want the best for your kid. You don’t want them to feel the harsh reality of pain or failure from potentially making a mistake.
And…they won’t grow up unless you allow it.
Resiliency is born out of learning how to handle mistakes. As well as discovering that you are empowered to take care of yourself.
Tip #3 to Help Young Adults Build Resiliency — Ask Good Questions:
It can be hard to ask questions of your developing adult. Especially if the response you receive tends to be harsh. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying or avoid it. It may mean that you just need to ask different questions.
So, what are good questions to ask?
You will want to come up with some easy to answer, open-ended questions. Starting with a question that is in-depth or thoughtful may feel too risky to respond to. And if you ask a question that can be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No,” then be prepared to get that response.
Some questions that you may try include:
· What was that experience like?
· What are you most pleased about with …?
· What did you learn about other people through doing …?
· What did you learn about yourself through doing …?
· What, if anything, would you do differently?
Another tip when asking questions: do something with your developing adult while having the conversation. Go on a hike with them. Or playing basketball. Or baking. Anything that they love to do that you can do with them.
My favorite is playing ping-pong.
There is something about being active that makes it easier for people to speak more freely.
Tip #4 to Help Young Adults Build Resiliency — Share Your Struggles:
No, I don’t mean that you get to drop all your painful emotions or stress on your kids. They are not your therapist. Or your parent.
But you can help normalize the experience that they are struggling through. What challenges have you face? Or when have you failed at something? Talk about what happened and how it affected you.
And, if possible, share how you were able to grow from it. Not in a “You need to do this, too,” kind of way. But in a way that says “I’ve struggled, too. I made it through. And I will be around to help you make it.”
Providing a message that you have struggled can communicate that it is possible to persevere. And that your young adult is not alone. And it can help them to recognize the resilience that they have inside them, too.
Tip #5 to Help Young Adults Build Resiliency — Let It Be What It Will Be:
No parent likes to see their child fail. It sucks to see them hurting. Especially if there is some negative messages about identity going on.
But you cannot rescue your child from feeling pain or failure and expect them to learn how to survive when things don’t go their way. A ball doesn’t bounce back up unless it hits the ground. Or wall, I guess.
You get the point.
You have to allow your kids to fail the college exams. To miss the deadlines for applications. To show up late for school or work.
Of course, you can help. But your kid is becoming an adult. And if they are going to develop resiliency, then you cannot be the person dragging them along or filling out the application for them.
There are consequences for every action — good and bad. And your child will need to learn to live with the consequences of their actions.
It is not easy helping your young adult build up greater resiliency. It will take great discipline on your part to help guide your student or young professional into a stronger sense of self.
And if you are looking for some help to partner with you, a professional counselor can be an excellent resource to help your young adult a stronger sense of resiliency.
Jason Wilkinson loves helping college students and young professionals develop a greater sense of self-esteem and resilience. He is passionate about helping them develop tools for anxiety. He is the owner of Wellspace Counseling, serving the communities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Portland, and throughout the state of Oregon.