5 Keys to Building Resilience in Children
While we can’t shield our children from every problem, we can teach them the life skills they need to persevere. Building resilience in children is one way we can help them thrive in the face of adversity.
Why is Resilience Important for Kids
Resilience is a life skill that’s crucial to our mental health both as kids and adults. Being resilient means you can cope with the natural ups and downs of life.
Resilience helps us overcome obstacles, find creative solutions, and see difficulties as a normal part of life. The more resilient you are, the less stress you experience when faced with challenges. Obstacles can feel more like opportunities.
When you help build resilience in children, you’re wiring their brain with a lifelong skill. Although you can learn resilience at any age, it becomes second nature when you learn it as a child.
5 Keys to Building Resilience in Children
So how can we encourage resilience in children? Let’s talk about a few key ways we can help our children learn this important skill.
(If you want to get more in-depth about raising resilient kids, download my free ebook here.)
Make Room for Emotions
Raising resilient children means allowing them to experience the full range of emotions. It’s important for kids to understand that emotions – even sadness, anger, and fear – are a normal part of life. These feelings aren’t a problem. They are temporary emotions that every human experiences.
Next, help children learn how to identify their feelings and express them in a healthy way. This will help them work through their feelings and learn from their experiences.
As a parent or educator, you might often feel the urge to swoop in and fix problems as they arise. It’s not easy to watch kids struggle. But when this happens too often, kids might end up feeling incapable of solving things for themselves.
Instead, encourage resilience in children like this:
Do be present and connected.
Kids need to know you care. Focus on listening and allowing them to feel heard.
Ask open-ended questions.
“What do you think would help?” or “What would you do differently next time?” Give your child room to come up with potential solutions. As much as possible, let them be the agent of action in their own lives.
Ask if they need help.
Sometimes kids just need to vent to a caring adult. Other times they might need you to step in to help or offer advice. As long as it’s reasonable, give them that choice. Simply ask, “Would you like some help with this?”
Let Them Make Mistakes
Watching your child make mistakes and deal with the fallout can be tough. Try to remember (and teach) that mistakes are a part of life and how we learn.
Reframing mistakes into learning opportunities is part of the growth mindset. Developing this mindset about mistakes is an important key to raising resilient children.
Here are a few ways you can reframe mistakes:
• Remind your child that everything is difficult at first. Over time and with some practice, everything gets easier.
• Use mistakes as lessons about learning new ways to do things. If one idea didn’t work, try something else. Every time you try something new, you get closer to the solution.
• Just like lifting weights can make us stronger, doing challenging things can make our brains grow. The more challenges you face, the stronger you get!
Help Them Learn Practical Life Skills
When kids feel capable, they feel confident about tackling a variety of issues. Teaching them basic life skills is a big part of raising resilient kids.
One study showed that learning life skills improved children’s self-esteem, well-being, and mood. Here are just a few examples of life skills children can learn before 10 years old:
🔸 Helping with laundry
🔸 Basic first aid
🔸 Planting seeds and basic gardening
🔸 Simple budgeting and price comparison
🔸 Wrapping gifts
🔸 Writing letters or thank you cards
🔸 Time management, setting alarms, etc.
🔸 Navigating (give them a map at a park or museum and let them lead the way)
🔸 Ordering for themselves at restaurants
🔸 Basic cooking skills and meal prep
Stretch to Become Flexible
Resiliency can also be thought of as a kind of flexibility. When you’re flexible, you can adapt when life throws you a curveball.
When raising resilient kids, consider where they are and then stretch just outside of that comfort zone. Over time, they learn that being uncomfortable sometimes is just a part of life. They take that stretch into life with them and learn to welcome it rather than fear it.
Let them know you’re there for them and that you love them no matter what. Once they have that foundation of trust, they will feel safe stretching outside of their comfort zone more often.
Learn More About Building Resilience in Children
Ready to learn more about teaching kids the skills they need to live a full and happy life? Click here to grab my free ebook and learn how you can help your child develop resilience.
Thanks for reading,
🧡 Stephanie Esser