Building Resilience in Children….


Family is undoubtedly the most important system affecting child resilience.

By providing a supportive environment with open communication and effective parenting practices, children are given a huge head start in terms of building resilience.

Along with a respectful parenting styles, the following list contains a number of more concrete and specific ways in which parents and caregivers can promote resilience in children (Brooks and Goldstein (2003):

  • Build Empathy: Help your child develop empathy by teaching him/her how to really consider and visualize the struggles faced by others.
  • Identify a Go-To Person: Make sure your child has a close and supportive adult he/she feels comfortable confiding in.
  • Listen: Ensure that your child feels like you aren’t simply hearing, but are truly tuned-in to what he/she has to say.
  • Accept Children for Who They Are: Avoid pushing your child in a direction he/she doesn’t want to go; but instead, celebrate the person he/she is.

  • Identify Strengths: Find-out what your child is really good at and offer encouragement and support.
  • Do-Overs: Make sure your child knows that mistakes along the way are okay; present them as learning experiences and areas where he/she can try to do better next time.
  • Develop Responsibility: Give your child opportunities for developing mastery and responsibility, this will encourage self-esteem and -efficacy.
  • Offer Meaningful Participation: Offer your child opportunities to engage in activities he/she really cares about.
  • Teach Problem-Solving: Show your child ways to deal with problems, providing both role modeling and encouragement.

As an additional tool for parents, there are some specific phrases connected to the desired goal that can be used to help kids to learn and internalize resilience when faced with a problem (Grose, 2013). Here are a few examples:

  • For the Goal of Humor: “Come on, laugh it off.” Helping your child to see the humor in a situation, as this is a powerful tool he/she will be able to apply in many difficult situations in life.
  • For the Goal of Providing Hope: “I know it looks bad now, but you will get through this.” There is really no doubt that fostering a sense of optimism gives children a big advantage when it comes to many prosocial outcomes.
  • For the Goal of Positive Reframing: “What can you learn from this so it doesn’t happen next time?” Reframing helps children to have a more realistic and healthy perspective of a situation. Children with emotional flexibility benefit from a good repertoire of coping solutions to draw from when needed.

Written for and published by the Positive Psychology Program , February 2019


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