10 Tips for Raising Mentally Strong Kids

Teach your child the lessons he needs to become mentally strong.
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Mentally strong kids are prepared for the challenges of the world. They’re able to tackle problems productively, bounce back from failure effectively, and cope with hardships competently. Helping kids build mental strength equips them to deal with life’s challenges—both big and small.

Mentally strong kids don’t act tough or suppress their emotions. They also don’t become stubborn or treat others unkindly.

Instead, developing mental strength is about building resilience and helping kids have the courage and confidence to reach their full potential.

While most parents want to raise resilient kids, many of them don't know how. Helping kids develop mental strength requires a three-pronged approach: teaching them to replace negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts, helping them learn to control their emotions so their emotions don’t control them, and showing them how to behave productively despite their circumstances.

There are many parenting strategies, discipline techniques, and teaching tools that can help kids grow stronger. Here are 10 strategies that will help your child develop the strength he needs to become a mentally strong adult:

1. Teach Specific Skills

Discipline shouldn’t be about punishing, it should be about teaching. Look at your child’s misbehavior as an opportunity to teach specific skills, such as problem-solving skills, impulse control, and self-discipline skills.

These skills will help your child learn to behave productively, even when he’s faced with temptation, tough circumstances, and difficult setbacks.

2. Let Your Child Make Mistakes

Allow your child to learn some important life lessons by making his own mistakes. Teach your child that mistakes are part of the learning process so he doesn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed for getting something wrong.

  Allow for natural consequences when it’s safe to do so and talk about how to avoid repeating the same mistake next time.

3. Calm the Negativity

It’s hard for kids to feel mentally strong when they’re bombarding themselves with put-downs or when they’re predicting doom and gloom. Teach your child to silence the negativity and think more realistically. Looking at life’s inevitable obstacles realistically, yet optimistically helps kids perform at their peak.

4. Help Your Child Face Fears

If your child avoids things that are scary, he’ll never have an opportunity to gain confidence in his ability to deal with stress. Whether your child is afraid of the dark, or he doesn’t want to challenge himself to try new things, help your child face his fears one small step at a time. Cheer him on, praise his efforts, and reward him for being brave.

5. Allow Your Child to Feel Uncomfortable

Although it can be tempting to help a child when he’s struggling, rescuing him from all distress will only reinforce to him that he’s helpless.

Whether your child is feeling frustrated with his math homework, or he’s struggling to resolve an argument with a friend, let your child experience discomfort. With support and guidance, struggles can help your child build mental strength.

6. Focus on Building Character

Kids need a strong moral compass to help them make healthy decisions. Work hard to instill your values in your child. Create opportunities for life lessons that reinforce your values regularly.

For example, emphasize the importance of honesty and compassion, rather than winning at all costs. Children who understand their values are more likely to make healthy choices—even when others may disagree with their actions.

7. Make Gratitude a Priority

Gratitude is a wonderful remedy for self-pity and other bad habits that can prevent your child from being mentally strong. Help your child affirm all the good in the world, so that even on his worst days, he’ll see that he has much to feel thankful for. Gratitude can boost your child’s mood and encourage proactive problem-solving.

8. Affirm Personal Responsibility

Building mental strength involves accepting personal responsibility. Allow for explanations – but not excuses when your child makes a mistake or misbehaves. Correct your child if he tries to blame others for how he thinks, feels, or behave.

9. Teach Emotion Regulation Skills

Building mental strength isn't about suppressing feelings, it's about choosing healthy ways to cope with those feelings. Teach your child how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like anger, sadness, and fear.  When kids understand their feelings and know how to deal with them, they’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges.

10. Role Model Mental Strength

Showing your child how to be mentally strong is the best way to encourage him to develop mental strength. Talk about your personal goals and show your child that you’re taking steps to grow stronger. Make self-improvement and mental strength a priority in your own life and avoid the 13 things mentally strong parents don’t do.

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