Steps to build resilience in children

Resilience describes our ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure and challenges. However, it is often misunderstood that resilience is not something we are born with, or something that some people have and others do not. Rather, resilience is something that we develop, grow and foster over time and with support and guidance.

So what are the benefits of resilience?

Resilience allows us:

  • Better manage stress and worries
  • To be able to overcome obstacles
  • To look for solutions and opportunities
  • To navigate challenging situations
  • Cope with rejection
  • Process and move past failure
  • See the lessons and opportunities in life’s lessons

Without resilience children can experience:

  • Higher stress levels or chronic stress
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Dwelling on problems
  • Increased anxiety
  • A feeling of rejection or feeling like a victim
  • Feelings of disappointment
  • A sense of failure if things do not go to plan
  • Setbacks feel permanent
  • Risks of depression, insomnia
  • Risks of unhealthy or destructive behaviours
  • Impacted/weakened immune system

The five pillars of resilience: 

Resilience can be divided into five pillars

  1. Self-awareness– having a clear understanding of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, motivations and emotions
  2. Mindfulness – Being in the present moment and mindful of your thoughts and feelings
  3. Self-care – Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually with healthy boundaries
  4. Positive Relationships – Healthy relationships with people who care for us and we care for them
  5. Purpose – A sense of belonging and purpose of creating and serving

Steps to Building Resilience

1 – Don’t be scared to let children experience disappointment – but do talk them through it so that they recognise sadness is not forever. Disappointment is part of life, and supporting children to make sense of it and move past it is imperative to developing resilience.

2 – Validate their fears but make plans to problem solve to allow them to still have freedom and autonomy – Recognising and validating children’s fears is important, however, we should also support them to find solutions and opportunities to move past them so that they can grow their zone of tolerance and move through fears rather than be controlled by them.

3 – Encourage taking calculated risks and experience consequence – Supporting children to take calculated risks and manage consequences helps them to develop life skills in managing challenges, consequence and learning from them to develop our intellectual and mental strength.

4 – Step out of your comfort zone – Encourage new things and experiences – Staying in our comfort zone can means that our zone of tolerance to life challenges and experiences is very small. Therefore, supporting children to grow their comfort zone, by stepping out of it and experiencing new things is important to developing resilience.

5 – Take time to sit and reflect and review mistakes and what we have learnt – Helping children to take time to reflect on mistakes and failures so that they can learn and grow from them prevents them feeling that they cannot achieve.

6 – Step back and encourage problem solving and decision making Whilst we sometimes want to jump in and save the day, encouraging and supporting children to problem solve and make decisions builds their confidence in resolving similar issues in the future.

7 – Share motivational stories of persistence and determination Sharing motivational and inspirational stories about others who have conquered challenging situations, persevered and utilised determination can allow us to learn new mindsets, thought processes and find solutions.

8 – Role model and examine our reactions and emotions – Being a good role model, owning our own mistakes, role modelling determination and perseverance as well as auditing our own behaviours allows us to demonstrate to children what resilience looks like and to learn from us.


Further help 

For more articles about mental health visit –

To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit –

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –

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