How to Develop Resilience in Children

See also: Teaching Children Social Skills

Developing resilience in a child means helping him or her to develop the strength to bounce back from life’s many setbacks. Resilience is the power to face adversity in life and still remain positive. Building resilience involves developing many important life skills in children, including positive social and emotional skills.

Let’s discover some facts about resilience and see how this quality is a life-changing trait in an individual.

Some developmental aspects of resilience in children according to the United States National Library of Medicine (NCBI) include:

  • Relationships play a vital role in resilience throughout the life span of an individual.

  • Determining the capacity to adapt to adversity.

  • Resilience is dynamic in nature and keeps changing through interactions and the environment over time.

Easy and Practical Ways to Promote Resilience in Young Children

1. Develop Problem-solving Skills

Problem solving is one of the essential skills that build resilience in an individual, and this quality eventually supports academic and workplace success in the long run. These skills lay the foundation for making realistic plans to overcome challenges. They also help individuals to avoid negative thinking.

Good problem-solving skills also help an individual to address issues with an optimistic and logical outlook. In this way, an individual becomes more responsive and flexible towards a situation. Your resilient child should have a "Never-say-die" spirit. This means that they should be capable of solving problems to overcome challenges. Nurture problem-solving abilities in your child and empower them to face hardships.

As an example, imagine that your child is unhappy about their score in an assessment, and this low academic achievement is a problem that needs to be addressed. Encourage problem solving in the child by asking them to look for possible causes of the problem. Allow the child to come up with a practical action plan that can help to resolve this problem.

Once the child comes up with their findings, you can chalk out a plan that can help to improve the situation. For example, perhaps you could set up a more secluded and quiet space for them to study, devote extra hours to the weaker subjects, or arrange extra professional help, etc.

2. Foster Self-reliance

Being independent or self-reliant is one of the best qualities that your child can possess because it makes them capable of functioning independently and they will grow up as a rational and mature individual. Let your child make mistakes, learn from them, and become an independent individual.

Start with simple activities and choices like choosing food items, books, dresses, and time slots to study different subjects in a day. Offer support and share positive feedback as and when it is required. Once your kids start making good decisions, you can gradually allow them more space. Remember to be vigilant with their supervision as they might need your handholding at any point in time.

Once your child develops decision making skills,  they can start to master the art of taking calculated risks with you helping them to understand the consequences of their actions.

3. Lifestyle and Health Management

The American Psychological Association (APA) highlights the importance of wellbeing in building resilience in a child. It states that food habits, sleep quality and physical activity are essential for one’s mental health, and without good mental health an individual cannot be resilient. Ensure that your child enjoys good physical and emotional health because this will help them to stay cheerful and in turn build the quality of resilience further.

Sports, yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and other such activities are great to achieve a positive state of mind. This power of the body and the mind in turn gives them the strength to face the challenges and overcome obstacles in life.

Research has also shown that resilience can also mitigate the ill effects of substance use, which makes this quality even more important in the present time.

4. Teach the Right Management of Emotions

Managing emotions is the key to being happy in life, and it is also a great way to build resilience in children. Children can often experience a storm of emotions, but they do not understand that it is alright to feel even the worst of these. This is because they lack coping skills to manage these emotions – they cannot identify these emotions accurately and so cannot therefore manage or fix them.

It is essential to teach children how to handle these emotions wisely because uncontrolled emotions can lead to several disorders and create a void in one’s life. Setting limits (for reactions and responses) is the only way to empower kids to manage these emotions. The simplest and easiest way to make this happen is to set rules to keep tantrums at bay. We can never expect emotionally unstable kids to become resilient individuals later in life. Your child should therefore know how to handle their anger, frustration, distress, etc. and you must help them by fostering their emotional maturity and supporting their problem solving. Be patient and calm when a child is in distress, but later explain the other side of the story that they might have failed to see during the turmoil.

Encourage the child to take up challenges and face them with grit because this is a great way to build emotional intelligence. This will help them to resolve the greatest life challenges with perseverance and courage.

5. Allow Making Mistakes

Building resilience is not an overnight process. At the same time, it is not possible to nurture this quality in our kids without allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them. These mistakes teach us invaluable lessons about making choices and decisions and they guide us to resolutions by giving us the necessary experience.

Allow your kids to make mistakes and emerge stronger with their learning. In contrast, if you protect your kids too much and do not allow them to make mistakes, they will lack the necessary coping skills. Later in life they will fail to understand the consequences of their actions and may struggle with several things in life. Your children should learn how to assess various aspects of a scenario or situation, so let your kids discover things on their own. However, make sure you give them any necessary guidance according to the situation without disturbing their journey of discovery.

6. Choose the Right School

The last way to build resilience in your kids is to choose the right school for them. According to ’The International Bureau of Education’ ‘UNESCO’, schools play a vital role in promoting resilience through carefully planned strategies because they foster a sense of purpose and hope for the future in kids. School education is also instrumental in developing coping strategies in students, which in turn helps them to thrive amidst unpleasant events and harsh times in life. The quality of school education and the learning environment also foster this quality in students because it helps them to focus better and keeps them motivated for learning.

Fortunately, there are some excellent schooling options available, such as accredited online schools that apply student-centric strategies to build resilience and other relevant skillsets in their students. These platforms strengthen the much needed key competencies of the 21st century in their students.

Concluding Words:

Life is full of ups and downs, and our choice of response determines the power to handle adversities. Resilience empowers an individual to accept challenges as a part of life and is also an important skill in determining success in the workplace.

Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive.

Jamais Cascio

About the Author

Ada Martinez is a seasoned educator, author, and supermom who has published in prestigious journals, websites, and newspapers. She is a career counsellor, mentor, and personality developer. Her articles mostly revolve around parenting, life lessons, and educational trends.