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Building Resilience in Kids

It’s never too early to start teaching your kids to cope with life’s ups and downs. We’ve got some tips to help you build your child’s resilience.

Determined young boy about to start race

What is resilience?

You may have heard the term before, but what exactly is resilience?

People often describe it as the ability to ‘bounce back’ from negative experiences.

This means when your kids make a mistake or experience a set-back they are able to brush it off relatively easily.

Some kids naturally develop resilience but other kids may struggle to deal with challenges in life.

It’s important to learn how to be resilient because life is tough and we need to know how to cope when difficult situations crop up!

The good news is that resilience can be learnt!

Why is resilience important?

Building resilience helps your child to deal with the challenges they have when they’re young.  It also provides a foundation for dealing with hardships they may face as teenagers and adults.

Kids with higher resilience are more likely to:

  • Manage stress and difficult emotions
  • Thrive at school and at work later in life
  • Have good psychological health
  • See mistakes as an opportunity to learn
  • Have well developed coping skills
  • Have healthy relationships with others

Keys to resilience

These are some key areas in which you can help your child develop so they can become more resilient:

Feeling connected to something like a school or youth group

Having a sense of independence and responsibility

Confidence

Problem solving skills

Positive self-esteem

Having a positive outlook on life

Identifying, expressing and coping with feelings

Having good friendships with people who accept them for who they are

Having positive role models within the family, school or community

Experiencing love and acceptance from a parent/carer

Building resilience

Some kids are naturally resilient. They’re able to easily manage disappointments and struggles. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for every child.

Here are some ways to help you build resilience in your little one:

  • Don’t get over involved - Many parents try to help their kids with everything. Begin by letting them do things for themselves. Help less often with tasks but still check in and offer guidance. Provide your child with opportunities to make decisions about their environment eg. which shoes they want to wear today.
  • Be a great role model - Over anxious parents can lead to over anxious kids. If you know yourself to be anxious, find ways to manage this eg. take a break and relax, exercise regularly, eat balanced meals and get plenty of sleep. Keep in mind that kids learn by observing.
  • Talk about it - Let your child know that difficult times are a part of life and things will usually get better. Talk to them about how you or people you know have overcome challenges in life. Read and reflect on books that have storylines showing characters overcoming problems.
  • Help your child manage big feelings - Let your child experience their emotions. Acknowledge how they feel and help your child learn to ‘self sooth’ eg. teach them a relaxation strategy, positive self-talk or to hug their favourite toy. Art and games of pretending are also good outlets for your child to work through fears and worries.
  • Make time for yourself - Remember to put yourself first sometimes! This helps kids build independence and understand they may need to find things to do other than play with you all day. It’s not selfish, it’s healthy for everyone.
  • Learn to say ‘no’ - It’s okay to say no and put boundaries in place. Kids who are taught boundaries early on will learn to manage expectations and accept that things don’t always go their way.
  • Let them experience life - Instead of getting too involved, step back and let them resolve things themselves. They’ll find ways to negotiate and accept things in their own way.

You are not alone

It can help to talk through your options with someone who understands.

Here's a list of supports you can check out:

  • See your GP or Child Health Nurse
  • Talk it through with a counsellor
  • Mothers groups (face to face or online)
  • Talk to family or friends with kids
  • Go to trusted websites such as: Healthy Families by Beyond Blue

Needing some extra support?

“Don’t be afraid to let kids make mistakes. They’ll learn how to fix things and make better decisions the next time around.”

- Carrie, Parentline Counsellor

This content was last reviewed 04/05/2018

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