Building Resilience in Young Children

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. Early childhood is an important time to nurture resilience.

How do I help build resilience in my child?

Be there for your child (click to expand) »

Your relationship with your child is critical to building resilience. It is important that your child knows who they can turn to when they need help.

Be a positive role model (click to expand) »

Young children are always watching, and they copy those around them. When you model positive ways to deal with difficult situations, you are teaching your child to do the same.

Help your child learn self-control (click to expand) »

Help your child learn self-control so they can learn to handle all kinds of different or challenging situations without feeling too distressed.

When your child is tired or hungry, it is difficult for them to deal with new or challenging situations. Healthy food and sleep are the building blocks to so many parts of healthy child development. Practice deep breathing with your child to help build relaxation skills. Pretend to blow bubbles together to practice how to breathe deeply and slowly. Practice when your child is not upset. This will help build the coping skill when they are upset.

Help your child learn how to regulate their behavior (click to expand) »

Help your child learn how to regulate their behavior by helping them name their feelings and think through ways to cope with them. Ask your child what they are thinking in their head. Then name the emotions they describe using empathy and understanding. Play thinking games together. For example, ask your child: “What would happen if Tommy took your toy?”

Building confidence in your child starts with responding to their needs as babies. Responding to your baby’s cry teaches them that they have some control over what happens to them. They learn security and trust, and these are the first steps towards building confidence in their abilities. When we have confidence, we believe in our own ability to do something or solve something. There is a feeling of control.

You can help build your child’s confidence by offering them simple choices. For example, ask them: “Would you like to wear your hat or your hood as it is cold outside?” then highlight their positive choices: “You made a great choice in wearing your hat, it helps to keep you warm.”

For lots of other practical tips on how to build resilience in children, check out the Building Resilience in Young Children: Booklet for parents of children from birth to six years from Best Start Ontario.

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Last updated: 2020-10-20