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Building Resilience in Kids

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

Little girl climbing on parallel bars

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 our kids make a mistake, experience a set-back, or even lose a friend, they are able to brush it off relatively easily.

Some kids naturally develop resilience but other kids may struggle.

It’s important to learn how to be resilient because life is tough and we need to know how to cope when challenging situations happen.

The good news is that resilience can be learnt!

Why is resilience important?

Building your child’s resilience not only helps them to deal with the challenges they experience growing up, but it also provides a foundation for developing skills that enable them to deal with hardships they may face as teenagers and adults.

Kids with higher resilience are more likely to:

  • Manage stress
  • Thrive in learning
  • Have good psychological health
  • See mistakes as an opportunity to learn
  • Have well developed coping skills
  • Have healthy relationships

Keys to resilience

Knowing the basic building blocks for resilience will give you a roadmap on the pathway to building resilience.

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

Feeling connected to something like a playgroup or class

Having a sense of independence and responsibility

Confidence

Problem solving skills

Positive self-esteem

Having a positive outlook

Identifying, expressing and coping with feelings

Having good friendships with people who accept them

Having positive role models within the family or community

Experiencing love and acceptance from a parent or 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’s 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. Start making small steps towards building their resourcefulness. Help less with tasks but still check and offer guidance. Provide your child with opportunities to make meaningful decisions about their environment.
  • Be a great role model - Over anxious parents can lead to over anxious kids. If you know yourself to be anxious, find ways to cope in difficult situations. Take a time out, exercise regularly, eat balanced meals and get plenty of sleep. Keep in mind that kids learn by observing body language and tone.
  • Talk about it - Let your child know that difficult times are a part of life - that these times will pass and that things will 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 that show characters overcoming problems. 
  • Help your child manage big feelings - Let your child experience their emotions. Acknowledge how they feel and help them put words to feelings, for example, “you’re smiling – you must be happy!” 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. When kids are taught this early on, they 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.”

- Julie, Parentline Counsellor

This content was last reviewed 04/05/2018

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