Resilience means that in the face of adversity or challenges we can still thrive. As parents, helping our children to build resilience is like saving money. Small things can be learning opportunities that pay off for a lifetime. Right now, helping children learn skills that build resilience means they get better and better at overcoming obstacles. No matter what challenges arise, they can enjoy life.
Step one? Focus on your relationship with your children. Even in stressful times, help children know that they matter. This means connecting with them often. It means listening, validating their feelings, and acknowledging when something is uncertain or scary.
Here are some practices that build resilience that you can add to your daily routine with your family.
Build self-regulation skills – Try a few activities from the Sound Disciple self-regulation card pack. https://www.sounddiscipline.org/self-regulation-toolkit-cards/
Build a cool down space or basket with your child
https://www.sounddiscipline.org/cool-down-space-instructions/ – Written instructions with suggested cool down space ingredients
https://youtu.be/v-4BwY8dQ10 – Campbell Hill Elementary 3rd Grade Teacher Kristin Shimizu’s video instructions for helping students create calm down baskets
Encourage your child to journal
https://theimagineproject.org/teaching-kids-students-to-be-resilient/ – Tips for teaching resilience and grade level appropriate free downloadable journals.
Create a routine chart with your child
Each day should contain space for learning, movement, contribution to the family and fun
What is Resilience? from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqO7YoMsccU
Tips for Parents – Building Your Children’s Resilience! from Devereux Center for Resilient Children –https://youtu.be/ChxSeaoWNMs
Building Resilience Kids During the Pandemic, from Connecticut Children’s – https://youtu.be/Atdpvr-Q1ko
How to Build Resilience in Kids, from Newsy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN4UeaY6PnQ
Teaching Your Kids About Resilience, from a middle school counselor – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Bl-JEfxH5c
A Lesson On Resilience, from The Learning Lab – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKpBJjsZ7EE
3 Art Therapy Activities to Boost Resilience, from innercanvas.com – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUFfD2p4y0U
Brains: Journey to Resilience, from Alberta Family Wellness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJvDrT6N-mw
Dr. Dan Siegel: What Hearing ‘Yes’ Does to your Child’s Brain – https://www.mindful.org/dr-dan-siegel-hearing-yes-childs-brain/
Stress and Anxiety Tool Kit, from work2bewell.org – https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:bd23c4e7-bf88-444f-9c44-b7b2c1c1ffa8
The Power of Showing Up, by Dan Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
The Yes Brain: Help Your Child be More Resilient, Independent and Creative, by Dan Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
Jared’s Cool Out Space, by Dr. Jane Nelsen
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-term Effects of Childhood Adversity, by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
We all have stories of resilience. Though we may not recognize it, these stories are like vitamins and minerals. They are a source of strength. Share your stories or those of extended family or friends — real life examples of how people got through hard things. You can also lift up stories of resilience from real-world people, movies, or book characters.
Practice Problem Solving
Invite your child to help you solve a problem you are having. When you have challenges at home or your child is having an issue at school or with a friend, use curiosity questions to get to the bottom of the situation.
- What are different ways of approaching this problem?
- How might someone else handle it?
- Who could I/you ask for help with the first steps?
Progress not perfection! We have a lot on our plates. Building routines, even small things, helps build resilience: Good sleep, nutrition, exercise, and self-regulation.
Resilience does not pop up overnight. Children often see failure or adversity as the end of the world. It’s hard to watch our kids struggle. Resist the urge to solve the problem for you child. When our children have chances to deal with challenging situations and stress, when they are supported by caring, connected adults, they build resilience.