Building resilience in children

Building resilience in children - Wild Kind Compassionate Playschool
Why is building resilience in children important?

“Fall down seven times, stand up eight”; a very famous Proverb, expresses the idea of sticking with a task with tenacity until it is completed – in other words, showing resilience. Building resilience in children, especially in these challenging times, is an investment of time to help them deal with difficult situations.
Although a child’s life includes lots of fun and joy, it’s inevitable that they will also experience obstacles and challenges that cause feelings of frustration and overwhelm. Not getting their own way, not understanding something, being told to go bed, or losing a favourite toy are just some of many difficult experiences a child will face in their early years.
While we might not be able to remove all these events, it’s important to teach a child resilience skills to help manage the situations. Learning coping strategies will help them bounce back from stress and adversity, and approach life’s challenges with confidence, bravery and optimism. It might sound difficult, and does it does require patience, but the good news is all humans are born with the capacity to learn resilience, so it’s something that can be nurtured in every child.

Some of the benefits of building resilience in children include:

  • Learning from mistakes
  • Acknowledging and moving on from difficult situations
  • Acceptance
  • Perseverance
  • Problem solving
  • Not dwelling on ‘failures’
  • Confidence
  • Positive outlook
Resilience is built through inner strength as well as outside support, so a parent or care giver has a responsibility as a role model to encourage the development of skills like inner strength, being flexible, critical thinking, positive thinking and confidence, which, in turn, form resilience. Resilient children turn into resilient adults, so the investment of your time will help a child develop a long term life skill.

Daily strategies to help build resilience in children

It’s all too easy to want to scoop a child up in our arms if they’re dealing with something that causes distress, however the biggest gift we can give them is the art of being resilient.

Here are some simple daily strategies we recommend:
  • Invest time in asking a child “how” they will overcome the effects of an action, rather than just “why” they did it
  • Always encourage sharing of food and belongings, without expectation that the kindness might be returned by others
  • Teach children that the gift is in giving, not receiving
  • Give the responsibility of keeping their room clean and cupboards tidy
  • Provide positive affirmations for difficult situations that they can learn and use, like “a rainbow will come after the storm”
  • Encourage problem solving, but let them know you’re there for them at any time – being brave and strong also means knowing when to ask for help
  • Strengthen the prefrontal cortex by strengthening a child’s executive functioning. This can be done through establishing a routine, providing opportunities to nurture their own relationships, and creative play
  • Encourage and remind a child that lots of things need practice – twirling a hula hoop, doing a cartwheel or learning how to paint within the lines all require patience
  • Build feelings of competence and a sense of mastery with encouraging words like “You’re brilliant at this, try a few more times and you’ll get there”
  • Celebrate achievements and let go of the things that don’t go as planned. Encourage a dialogue about how to improve next time
  • Stick to your word – “No means no” shows them the power of boundaries
  • Nurture a child’s flexibility and independence by encouraging them to try new things they’re intrigued by, like a vegetable they’ve never tried before, or playing with a new group of children at the playground
  • Allow them to wait for you to be ready to answer their questions or chatter if you’re midway through a conversation with someone else
  • Provide opportunities in the day when they will need to find ways to entertain themselves, for example if you’re on a phone call
  • Maintain a positive attitude about household jobs, emphasising the benefits of the outcome
  • Teach self discipline by asking a child to wait for mealtimes rather than snacking in-between
  • Encourage a child to practice non-attachment to things by willingly giving away toys regularly to charity or other children
  • Resist the urge to help them with everything – allow a child to discover how to tie their shoelaces or put on a scarf, even if it means leaving the house a few minutes later.
At Wild.Kind.

Please remember that it’s not solely determination or inner strength that helps build resilience – a child also needs the reliable presence of supportive relationships, too. It’s important to build on these relationships rather than try and build uncompromising independence. This kind of social support is linked to higher positive emotions, self esteem, optimism, security and, of course, resilience.  At Wild.Kind., we cultivate the ethos that children are capable learners who can think – and do things – for themselves. Whilst providing an exceptionally supportive environment we believe that encouraging children to think and act for themselves empowers them to build resilience and bounce back from challenges they experience.
Find out more about our philosophy.



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