Akriti Maurya
By Akriti Maurya
Child Development Counsellor, Mental Health Counsellor

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, cope with stress, and adapt to change. Building resilience in children is important because it helps them to develop a positive outlook on life, cope with challenges, and thrive in the face of adversity. Resilience is a skill that can be learned and developed over time, and parents and teachers can play a crucial role in fostering resilience in children in grades 1-5. Here are some strategies for building resilience in children, along with expert tips from child development experts.

Encourage a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort and hard work. Encouraging a growth mindset in children helps them to see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as failures. Child development experts recommend praising effort, not just achievement, and using language that emphasizes the process of learning, such as "I can see you worked hard on that" or "Let's try it a different way."

Dr. Carol Dweck, a leading researcher on growth mindset, recommends that parents and teachers use the phrase "not yet" when children struggle with a task, rather than "you can't do it." For example, "You haven't mastered that skill yet, but with practice and effort, you will." This encourages children to see mistakes and setbacks as temporary, and to keep trying until they succeed.

Foster Positive Relationships

Positive relationships with parents, teachers, and peers can help children to feel supported and valued. Child development experts recommend fostering positive relationships by spending quality time with children, listening actively, and validating their feelings. Parents can make time for one-on-one conversations with their children, and teachers can create a positive classroom environment by emphasizing cooperation, respect, and empathy among students.

Dr. Karen Reivich, a psychologist and co-author of The Resilience Factor, recommends that parents and teachers use a communication style called active-constructive responding. This means responding in an enthusiastic and supportive way when children share good news or accomplishments. For example, if a child says, "I got an A on my test," an active-constructive response would be, "That's fantastic! You must have worked really hard to achieve that."

Teach Coping Skills

Coping skills help children to manage stress and overcome challenges. Child development experts recommend teaching coping skills such as deep breathing, positive self-talk, and problem-solving strategies. Parents can model these skills by using them themselves, and teachers can incorporate mindfulness activities into the classroom, such as yoga or meditation, to help children learn to regulate their emotions.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician and author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens, recommends teaching children the acronym "CALM" to help them cope with stress. CALM stands for:

  • C: Connect with others
  • A: Actively take on the challenge
  • L: Look on the bright side
  • M: Make a plan

Parents and teachers can also teach children to identify their own coping strategies that work for them, such as drawing, listening to music, or talking to a trusted friend or family member.

Encourage Independence and Responsibility

Giving children opportunities to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions helps them to develop self-confidence and self-efficacy. Child development experts recommend encouraging independence and responsibility by giving children age-appropriate tasks, such as setting the table or packing their own backpacks. Teachers can also encourage independence by giving students choices in how they complete assignments or tasks, such as giving them the option to work alone or in groups, or to choose the topic of a project.

Dr. Peter Gray, a psychologist and author of Free to Learn, recommends that parents and teachers give children the freedom to play and explore on their own. This helps children to develop their own interests and passions, and to take risks and learn from their mistakes. Gray notes that play and exploration are essential for building resilience, as they help children to develop problem-solving skills, creativity, and a sense of autonomy.

Practice Gratitude And Optimism

Gratitude and optimism are important components of resilience, as they help children to focus on the positive aspects of their lives and to find meaning and purpose in challenging situations. Child development experts recommend practicing gratitude and optimism by encouraging children to notice and appreciate the good things in their lives, such as supportive relationships, personal strengths, and achievements.

Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist and founder of positive psychology, recommends that parents and teachers use the "three blessings" exercise with children. This involves asking children to write down three things that went well each day, and to reflect on why they went well. Seligman notes that this exercise helps children to develop a more positive outlook on life and to feel more optimistic about the future.

Tips by Child Development Advisor

Encourage Social Support

Children who have supportive relationships with family members, friends, and teachers are better able to cope with stress and adversity. Encourage children to build strong relationships by participating in social activities, such as team sports, clubs, or community service projects.

Model Resilience

Children learn by example, so it's important for parents and teachers to model resilience in their own lives. This means showing children how to handle challenges and setbacks in a positive way, and emphasizing the importance of perseverance and determination.

Provide Opportunities for Mastery

Children who feel competent and successful are more likely to be resilient in the face of challenges. Provide children with opportunities to develop their skills and talents by participating in activities they enjoy and feel confident in.

Foster a Sense of Belonging

Children who feel like they belong in their community and school are more likely to feel supported and connected, which can help them to build resilience. Encourage children to participate in activities that promote a sense of community, such as school events or community service projects.

Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Resilience involves the ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles. Teach children problem-solving skills, such as breaking a problem down into smaller parts, brainstorming solutions, and evaluating the effectiveness of different strategies.

In conclusion, building resilience in children in grades 1-5 is important for their long-term success and well-being. Parents and teachers can play a crucial role in fostering resilience by encouraging a growth mindset, fostering positive relationships, teaching coping skills, encouraging independence and responsibility, and practicing gratitude and optimism. By working together, parents and teachers can help children to develop the resilience they need to thrive in the face of challenges and adversity.