How to Build Resilience in Children

How to Build Resilience in Children

Building resilience in kids is an important part of development as it’s the very skill that helps them to overcome obstacles, recover from setbacks and find joy in life. 

Let us introduce you to the signs of resilience and some fun activities that can help your child to become more resilient! 

What is resilience and why does it matter? 

In essence, resilience is a key skill that helps us cope with negative situations and emotions. It’s the fighting force that keeps us going when we’re close to giving up. Every time you’ve pushed yourself to achieve something difficult, like a really tough run, it’s your resilience that keeps you going. 

For kids, resilience is one of the building blocks for becoming a confident, competent and capable human being. Resilience can also help kids become more willing to try new things and step up to challenges as well as deal with change, such as moving house or starting school. 

Resilient kids can adapt when faced with obstacles and will be able to continue to develop their skills and their relationships.

What are the factors that influence resilience?

Many factors affect resilience in kids, and strong relationships are among the most important. Building and sustaining strong relationships with caregivers, friends and the wider community will provide children with a feeling of safety, security and comfort. In turn, this gives kids the confidence to face whatever the world sends their way. 

Experience is another factor that can help develop a child’s resilience. As kids learn to overcome problems in healthy ways, they start to see what they’re capable of and are more prepared to handle challenges in the future. 

While there are ways to help kids build their resilience, it’s just as important to consider the biological factors that can affect them. 

Biological Factors 

Many factors can have an effect on kids’ in all areas of their development, such as their home, their social environments, their school and even their parents. While it is possible to control some of these factors, it’s worth remembering that every child is unique and can be more resilient in some ways than in others, which can often come down to their genes. 

Health 

We all get poorly now and again, but this is less likely for children with a heightened degree of resilience. You can help your kids to adopt a healthy lifestyle by encouraging exercise, regular sleeping patterns and healthy diets. 

Genetic Disposition 

There’s no doubt that the genes we inherit from our parents make up a big part of who we grow up to be. However, this can go beyond physical features as kids are likely to pick up some of their parents’ psychological traits as well, which can affect how they develop resilience. 

While there’s little we can do to avoid this, it’s simply the way of the world, what’s important is to provide kids with a sense of safety, comfort and companionship to help them feel like they can take on any challenge that comes their way. 

Temperament 

Some experts believe an infant’s temperament (whether or not they are a fussy or calm baby) may hold sway in regards to how they build resilience during their early years. 

While patient, attentive and responsive kids may find it easier to accept change, there are always ways to help kids adapt to certain behaviors and give them the best developmental start in life. 

External Factors

External factors can also influence resilience, especially the support a child receives from primary caregivers and people in their community. 

Positive experiences in a child’s home, school and neighborhood will also improve how resilient a child becomes, as they feel safe and capable to act and react in these places. 

Home Environment 

It’s been found that a clean, organized and structured home is an optimal setting for developing resilience. Encouraging your child to help with tidying up will also teach them to look after themselves and the world around them — both of which will fuel their resilience. 

Parenting Styles 

Establishing rules and consistent expectations early on will promote the development of resilience in young children. Regularly giving positive reinforcement to a child will also help them to develop positive behaviors, healthy boundaries and empathetic decision-making. 

Parents and caregivers are also direct role models to children, so it’s always worth considering one’s behaviors and what they may convey to a child. By remembering their role in setting an example for their kids, parents and guardians can lead by example. 

There are many ways to understand what makes someone resilient. We have broken down seven of the most recognizable elements below. 

What are the 7 C’s of Resilience?

1. Competence 

Competence is the ability to know how to effectively handle stressful situations. Kids that can recognize what’s needed of them in certain situations and how to respond appropriately will feel more competent as they deal with similar situations in the future. 

Many other activities provide the opportunity for kids to practice and build their competence, such as:

  • Encouraging independence with self-led play 
  • Promoting curiosity - and mistakes! 
  • Teaching self-encouragement 

Consider toy sets that encourage children to try new things. This MINDSTORMS® Robot Inventor set, for example, has 949 pieces and five unique robot designs to build, offering several different ways to play and learn. 

2. Confidence 

Confident children believe in themselves and their abilities to overcome real-life situations. The more frequently a child can demonstrate their competence, the more confident they will feel. 

Writing or drawing prompts can be a fun activity for building confidence, as children can communicate and reflect on what makes them feel brave.

3. Connection 

Children with a strong sense of connection are likely to feel more resilient. Whether they have close relationships with family, friends, or community groups, a child with connections is likely to feel they belong. 

To help a child feel more connected, communication is a must. Group activities can encourage children to share their own experiences and opinions, to feel listened to and supported. 

4. Character 

Children with a strong sense of character tend to recognize their self-worth and confidence. This awareness directly feeds into resilience, as they can understand not only what choices need to be made in different situations, but also that they are capable of making choices that align with their sense of what’s right. 

Character-strengthening activities can nurture feelings of self-esteem, empathy and can even help a child to identify their values. Activities might include exploring new passions and experiences or introducing activities into daily routines. 

5. Contribution 

If a child can feel a personal sense of contribution to the world around them, they can learn the power of generosity and feel needed. A child who contributes will also experience the impact of their actions, which will enhance their competence, sense of connection and character. 

To support this learning, show children how to be generous with their time and attention. You can also find and create chances for your child to contribute, perhaps by helping you with something specific regularly. This resilience activity can teach them to appreciate others and to contribute more. 

6. Coping 

Coping skills are essential for nurturing resilience in children. Coping skills such as stress reduction and social skills allow children to be prepared to overcome any challenges they face in life. 

To help a child to cope, showcase positive coping strategies so they can see them in action. You can also create an open environment that promotes talking and sharing in a safe space. 

7. Control 

As children discover that they have control over their reactions and choices, they are likely to know how best to make difficult decisions. It’s this sense of control that can support a child as they bounce back from challenging situations. 

You can help a child to feel in control by allowing them to make small decisions by themselves. This might be something as simple as choosing a game to play or a meal to enjoy. 

You can also teach children to understand how actions and choices create consequences. This can help them to see how their behavior impacts their future — and the future of others. 

Resilience Activities for Kids: How can you build resilience in children?

There is no ‘right time’ for building resilience in kids - and can be valuable at any time throughout a child’s life. 

For toddlers, resilience activities can help them deal with the stress of figuring things out as they develop their motor and cognitive skills. 

For 3 or 4-year-olds, these activities can help them to learn how to regulate their emotions and communicate with others more effectively as they enter primary or preschool. 

While, for 9 to 12-year-olds - it can help them develop independence, gain confidence and discover who they are and who they want to be as they get older. 

Learn about some activities that are suitable for kids across all of these age groups that will help them develop resilience. 

Build Their Executive Function to Better Manage Behavior and Emotions 

Children who have their executive functioning and prefrontal cortex strengthened will be better able to manage their behavior and emotions, as well as acquire coping strategies. 

Here are a few examples of activities that will help a child achieve this: 

  • Establishing routines 
  • Modeling healthy social behavior 
  • Creating and maintaining supportive, reliable relationships around them 
  • Providing opportunities for their social connections 
  • Creative play at home and in school 
  • Board games or coding activities that teach impulse control/planning/working memory/mental flexibility 

Encourage Risk-Taking and Opportunities to Think and Act Independently 

Taking healthy risks can encourage a child to go beyond their comfort zone, push themselves and discover something new. Children who regularly show this bravery become more confident and resilient. On the other hand, children that avoid risk are likely to believe they aren’t capable of handling challenges. 

Help Kids Discover “Their Passion” by Introducing Them to a Wide Range of Activities 

Introducing kids to a wide range of resilience activities can open up a world of possibilities for them. They will develop a deeper understanding of what they enjoy doing and form character-building opinions as they play. 

Help your child to build resilience by exploring new interests and themes, such as STEM, LEGO® Technic™, architecture, art and inventive superhero games. 

These resilience activities for kids can help them to make important decisions in the future — and to have fun! 

Educate on the Inevitability of Change 

Change can be intimidating for children of all ages. Yet, children who are aware of the inevitability of change can learn to anticipate and even embrace it. Teaching children that change is the only constant may even encourage them to view change as an exciting opportunity. 

Teach Your Child About Self-Care 

Teaching children the importance of looking after themselves can contribute to how resilient they become. Start by discussing how they might recognize signs of discomfort or stress, then identify the small changes and habits they can use to feel better. This might include healthy eating, resting, having fun and getting plenty of good sleep. 

Encourage Kids to Engage in Self Discovery 

Encouraging kids to engage in self-discovery increases self-awareness, a useful tool for building resilience in children. As difficult times are often when children learn more about themselves, they are useful opportunities for finding out who they are and what they are capable of. Supporting a child as they develop curiosity and self-reliance will set them on track to becoming incredibly resilient. 

What are the signs of resilience in a child?

Many parents question whether or not their child is resilient. If this is the case, there are some noticeable signs and traits that resilient children tend to have: 

  • Display a genuine interest in academics, learning and going to school 
  • Solve problems effectively and calmly 
  • Display assertiveness and are capable of showing initiative 
  • Show signs of empathy toward others as well as animals 
  • Are responsible and trustworthy 
  • Respond rationally to stressful situations and bounce back quickly 
  • Set and attain realistic career and life goals 
  • Maintain a sense of purpose and a positive outlook on life 
  • Can act independently without much support or need for others to be involved 
  • Question everything and ask for support when needed 

Now if your child doesn’t have all or only some of the traits on the list - there’s no need to worry - because it’s never too late to start building resilience in kids and being properly informed is the first step to success! 

Just get involved in some of the fun activities we mentioned and start establishing resilience in your children today!

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