by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Adversity Quotient (AQ) is the ability to bounce back after a negative experience, and to turn it into a positive learning experience. In other words, it is resiliency. Just like Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and Emotional Quotient (EQ), Adversity Quotient is increasingly being considered as one of the most important factors that can predict a person’s success in life, including academics. Therefore, it is important to understand how parents can nurture and grow Adversity Quotient (AQ) in kids.
One may think that kids should be left on their own, to learn to be resilient. However, when children are very young, a caring adult should be physically and emotionally available to them. The unconditional love of a caring adult makes them feel secure, and gives them enough inner strength to face difficulties on their own. Also, experiences in childhood where the child could overcome adverse circumstances with the parents’ support will instill in her the belief that bad things do not necessarily mean the end of the world.
Parents need to let kids experience some difficult situations. For example, your child has forgotten to do some work for school and the submission date is over. If the child is old enough to talk, she should be able to approach the teacher and say sorry, and ask for an extension. If the teacher’s response is negative and unreasonable, then the parents can step in. Thus, as a child grows, parents should take a backseat and let the child navigate her experiences. However, they need to step in if the child is being unreasonably dealt with or is manipulated in some way.
The role of unstructured play in developing one’s Adversity Quotient is widely recognized nowadays. Every child should be engaged in unstructured play for some time every day with his peers. In modern living conditions, it is often not possible to have old fashioned playtime involving children from families living nearby. In such cases, schools should take up the responsibility and include enough free play time in their daily lessons. This is particularly important at kindergarten and lower primary levels.
There are parents who get involved in kids’ fights. More often than not, this leads to the parents of the two parties fighting with each other for a long time, while the kids would have patched up their differences. It is never a good idea to try to solve kids’ fights unless there is serious danger involved. This is in fact one of the most important tips for successful parenting.
Just like managing difficult situations, children need to learn to manage situations they do not like, but are obliged to do. A very effective way of instilling this discipline in them is to get them involved in house hold work, such as folding clothes, watering plants, chopping up vegetables, washing the car or emptying the trash bin. This will teach them that sometimes in life there are situations they have to go through whether they like it or not.
Every situation, no matter how bad it is, has something in it that can be beneficial to us. It is often said that in every challenge there is an opportunity. Every cloud has a silver lining. Our children need to see the good that is hidden in the bad. It helps to ask a child who has gone through a particularly harrowing experience, what he learnt from it. This is because we can learn from all kinds of experiences, and often difficult experiences are very good teachers.
No one can expect somebody else to solve their problems all their lives. A person’s problem solving ability is often a measure of how far he can turn adverse situations to his advantage. When your child tells you that something is difficult, or that he has a problem, all parents have the temptation to immediately offer a solution. It is important to resist that temptation and offer suggestions instead. The child should be able to think and choose one of your suggestions, and act on it. As he gets older, he will be able to think of many solutions to a given problem and choose the best for himself.
Finally, remember that positive reinforcement works wonders every time. When your child has finally successfully dealt with a bully by standing up to him, show your appreciation. Or when he has handled a tough relationship problem favorably, tell him that you are proud of him.