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Why It Is Vital for Parents to Begin Cultivating Resilience in Their Exceptionally Wired (Neurodivergent) Children Today: How to Do It in 3 Simple Steps



Child playing with Lego being resilient

By Dr. D.A. Palmer, Ed.D.


Introduction to cultivating resilience in exceptionally wired children


Imagine watching your child play in a quiet park on a sunny afternoon. They run around with an infectious laugh, their imagination turning sticks into swords and leaves into treasure maps. But as you watch, you also know that behind that joyful exterior lies a unique set of challenges. Your child, exceptionally wired, navigates the world differently. Suddenly, another child comes up and grabs the “sword” out of your child’s hand. You anxiously watch how they’ll react. Will they start crying and run to you? Will they punch the other child to get the stick back?


Every day, you wrestle with your deep-seated desire to help them build the resilience they need to face life's hurdles with confidence and grace. But how?


Defining Resilience and Its Importance


Resilience is not only the ability to bounce back from adversity but also a person's capacity to maintain their core purpose and integrity in the face of challenging circumstances and thus continue to grow and thrive. For children, especially those who are exceptionally wired (neurodivergent, trauma-impacted, or navigating mental health challenges), resilience is crucial. It’s not just a desirable trait; it's a vital lifeline. It equips them with the tools to face and overcome the unique daily obstacles. This journey toward resilience is powerful and starts with you, their parent and primary guide.


Without resilience, our children can fall into two categories: they give up on life in despair or make excuses because of their struggles. We want our children to cultivate resilience and thrive in every aspect of their lives.


The Unique Challenges of Exceptionally Wired Children


Cultivating resilience in our exceptionally wired children is no easy task, requiring a great deal of resilience in ourselves. Exceptionally wired children often encounter unique obstacles that can affect their emotional, social, and cognitive development. These challenges can range from sensory sensitivities and social communication difficulties to managing anxiety and executive function issues such as organization, impulse control, and time management. Cultivating resilience helps them navigate these challenges more effectively in the present and in the future.


Why Start Cultivating Resilience Today?


Early intervention is key. The benefits of cultivating resilience from an early age are profound. By starting today, you're not only helping them manage their current challenges but also setting the foundation for a future where they can thrive. The earlier you begin to foster resilience in your children, the better equipped these children will be to handle stress, overcome obstacles, build strong relationships, and achieve their full potential. Building resilience from a young age can lead to long-term positive outcomes in their personal, academic, and social lives.


Where We're Heading


I want to guide you through understanding resilience, the specific needs of exceptionally wired children, and practical steps to cultivate resilience in your child. We will then cover three simple steps: understanding and acceptance, developing coping skills, and building strong relationships. Let's dive in!


Understanding Resilience More


The Science Behind Resilience

Research shows that resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. In fact, children are not born with a large degree of resilience. It is learned and cultivated with nurturing adults. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed. Factors contributing to resilience include a positive attitude, a growth mindset, the ability to regulate emotions, and the capacity to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.


Importance of Resilience in Childhood Development

Resilience is essential for children to overcome the challenges of growing up. We all remember how hard it was. Now, in our modern age with social media, living in the post-COVID world, and the rise of mental health challenges as a culture, it is harder than ever. So resilience is vital in helping them build a strong foundation for future well-being and success. Resilient children are more likely to take on new challenges, recover from setbacks, and thrive in their environments.


Stretch bands that are highly resilient

Exceptionally Wired Children


Who Are Exceptionally Wired Children?

I’ve coined the term “Exceptionally Wired Children” to describe those who are neurodivergent, trauma-impacted, or navigating mental health challenges. They might be diagnosed with conditions such as autism, ADHD, or anxiety disorders, among others. Their unique strengths and stretches might not be diagnosed, but we can see them.


Common Traits and Behaviors

Exceptionally wired children often exhibit heightened sensory sensitivities, intense focus on specific interests, difficulty with social interactions, and varying levels of communication skills. Understanding these traits is the first step in supporting their resilience.


The Impact of Neurodivergence on Daily Life

Neurodivergence can impact various aspects of daily life, from school performance and peer relationships to family dynamics and self-esteem. Recognizing and addressing these impacts is crucial in fostering a nurturing and supportive environment that promotes resilience.


The Vital Role of Parents


Parents with their resilient daughter

Parents as Primary Support Systems

Parents play a pivotal role in nurturing resilience. Their responses to their child's needs and challenges can significantly influence their ability to develop coping mechanisms and a positive self-image.


Building a Supportive Home Environment

A supportive home environment includes creating routines, setting clear expectations, and providing a safe space for children to express themselves. This foundation helps children feel secure and understood, vital for developing resilience.


Where Do You Start?


Step 1: Understanding and Acceptance


Acknowledging Neurodivergence

The first step in cultivating resilience is acknowledging, affirming, and accepting your child's neurodivergence. This acceptance helps create a supportive environment where your child feels valued and understood.


Educating Yourself and Your Child

Knowledge is power. It is crucial to educate yourself about your child's strengths and stretches and help them understand their unique wiring. This education fosters empathy, self-awareness, and empowerment.


Embracing Individual Strengths and Challenges

Every child has strengths and challenges. Embracing these can help parents focus on their child's abilities and potential rather than their limitations.



Books, online courses, and reputable websites can provide valuable information about neurodivergence. Familiarizing yourself with these resources helps you better support your child.



Connecting with other parents with similar experiences can provide emotional support and practical advice. Support groups, whether in person or online, offer a sense of community and shared understanding.



Seeking guidance from professionals such as family life coaches, therapists, counselors, and educators can offer personalized strategies to support your child's development and resilience.


Helping Your Child Understand


Resilient friends communication at playground


Tailoring your conversations to your child's developmental level ensures they understand their neurodivergence in a meaningful way. We can emphasize that there is nothing “wrong” with them and that they don’t need to be “fixed.” Honest and age-appropriate discussions foster trust and self-awareness.



Encouraging your child to recognize their strengths and challenges helps them develop self-awareness, a critical component of resilience. Awareness and gratitude for who they are are a must!



Highlighting the unique strengths that come with neurodivergence helps build your child's confidence and self-esteem. Celebrating differences promotes a positive self-image, stronger self-efficacy (I can do it), and a growth mindset (the power of ‘yet’).


Step 2: Developing Resilience Building (Coping) Skills


Identifying Stressors and Triggers

Understanding what causes stress and anxiety in your child is crucial for developing effective coping strategies. Identifying these stressors allows you to address them proactively and in a healthy way.


Teaching Problem-Solving Skills

Equipping your child with problem-solving skills helps them navigate challenges independently. These skills empower them to take control of their situations and build resilience. The more autonomy they can build (choice and voice), the greater their ability to grow and thrive with resilience.


Encouraging Emotional Expression

Helping your child express their emotions healthily is essential for their emotional well-being. Encouraging emotional expression helps them process their feelings and develop coping mechanisms.


Identifying Stressors



Common triggers might include sensory overload, changes in routine, or social interactions. Recognizing these triggers helps you anticipate and manage potential stressors.



It is crucial to provide a safe and calming space at home where your child can retreat when feeling overwhelmed. This space serves as a sanctuary where they can relax and regroup.



Creating a plan that includes strategies for managing stress, such as mindfulness techniques, physical activity, or relaxation exercises, helps your child cope with stressors effectively.


Problem-Solving Skills


Problem solving with puzzle


Teaching your child to break down problems into manageable steps and modeling these steps makes challenges feel less overwhelming. This approach encourages logical thinking and resilience.



Allowing your child to take the lead in solving problems fosters independence and self-efficacy. Encouraging them to make decisions and learn from their experiences builds resilience.


Emotional Expression



Teaching your child how to communicate their feelings and needs effectively is crucial. Healthy communication skills enable them to express themselves and seek support when needed.



Creative outlets such as art, music, or writing provide alternative ways for your child to express their emotions. These activities can be therapeutic and help them process their feelings and communicate them better.



Expanding your child's emotional vocabulary helps them articulate their feelings more accurately. This clarity improves their ability to communicate and manage their emotions.


Step 3: Building Strong Relationships


Fostering Connection with Family

Strong family bonds provide a sense of security and belonging. Fostering these connections through quality time and open communication is essential for resilience.


Encouraging Friendships

Social connections are vital for emotional health. Encouraging your child to build and maintain friendships helps them develop social skills and a support network. They will need your support, empathy, and input as it is challenging for many exceptionally wired children to read social cues, understand figurative language, not say what is on their minds bluntly, or feel empathy for another person. It is vital not to teach them to “mask” and be someone they are not to please people.


Engaging with the Community

Participating in community activities and finding inclusive environments helps your child feel connected and supported. Community engagement fosters a sense of belonging and resilience.


Family Connections


Grandparent and resilient child bonding


Spending quality time with your child (especially doing things they enjoy) strengthens your bond and provides opportunities for positive interactions. This time is crucial for building trust and resilience.



Promoting healthy sibling relationships helps your child feel supported within the family. Siblings can be valuable sources of companionship and understanding.


Friendships



Creating opportunities for your child to interact with peers helps them develop social skills. These interactions are essential for building friendships and social resilience.



Teaching your child social skills such as taking turns, sharing, and reading social cues equips them to navigate social interactions more effectively.



Helping your child manage social anxiety through coping strategies and gradual exposure to social situations builds their confidence and resilience.


Community Engagement



Identifying and participating in inclusive activities accommodating your child's needs helps them feel accepted and valued. These activities promote social interaction and resilience.



Encouraging your child to participate in volunteer work or group activities fosters a sense of purpose and community connection.



Creating a network of supportive friends, family, and community members provides a safety net for your child. This network can offer emotional and practical support.


In Conclusion


Recap

Building resilience in exceptionally wired children is crucial for their development and well-being. Understanding and accepting their neurodivergence, developing coping skills, and building strong relationships are key steps in this process.


Ready for More Ways to Cultivate Resilience in Your Child?

As parents, you are the cornerstone of your child's support system. Your love, understanding, and proactive efforts can make a world of difference in their lives. Starting today, you can lay the foundation for a future where your child faces the world with confidence and resilience. Embrace their strengths, support their emotional growth, and create a nurturing environment that celebrates their uniqueness.


If you're looking for more personalized support and guidance, I'm here to help. At The Inclusion Matters Collective, I offer coaching tailored to the needs of families with exceptionally wired children. Join me at theimatter.co/coaching for one-on-one coaching sessions specifically designed to empower you and support your exceptionally wired child.

Let's work together to build resilience and unlock your child's full potential. Contact me today to schedule your free 20-minute strategy session and begin your journey toward a more resilient future.


FAQs

  1. Why is resilience important for exceptionally wired children? Resilience helps exceptionally wired children navigate their unique challenges more effectively, building a foundation for future well-being and success.

  2. How can I help my child understand their neurodivergence? Engage in age-appropriate conversations, build self-awareness, and celebrate their unique strengths to help them understand and embrace their neurodivergence.

  3. What are some common stressors for exceptionally wired children? Common stressors include sensory overload, changes in routine, and social interactions. Recognizing these triggers helps manage stress proactively.

  4. How can I encourage my child to build strong friendships? Facilitate social opportunities, teach social skills, and help them manage social anxiety to encourage building strong friendships.

  5. What resources are available to learn more about neurodivergence? Books, online courses, reputable websites, support groups, and professional guidance offer valuable information and support for understanding neurodivergence.


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