smiling girl wearing light pink baseball hat

While all parents want to protect their children from adversity, we also know that’s often not possible. Hard things happen to children and families, but the job title of “parent” means helping children learn the skills to overcome those hardships.

Every parent wants their children to be resilient to have a good outcome in the face of adversity.  We now know that children can be taught skills that build their capacity to overcome hardships, develop resilience and become productive adults. We also know that these skills are built over time, can be taught at any age and are based on positive interactions with caring adults and specific skill-building activities.  

7 Ways Parents Can Help Develop Resilience in Children 

1. Be supportive. Children can develop resilience in the face of adversity when they have strong, consistent and supportive relationships with adults. When your child is facing a hard situation, be sure that at least one adult is available to help them cope, talk through the issue and provide support.  

2. Help build social skills. In addition, children need good social skills to reach out to peers, maintain friendships and ask for help. Show children how they can rely on trusted friends when they face hard times. Teach the skills of making initial contact with peers and maintaining a friendship through mutual respect, shared experiences and asking for help.   

Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.

Nelson Mandela

3, Help teach self-control. Another part of resilience is learning to control our behavior and actions. When children are calm, talk about how they can choose new responses to tough situations, monitor their feelings and behavior, and take a break or find control when they are upset.  

4. Focus on real-life situations. Resilience skills are best taught in real-life situations. This happens when adults teach their children the skills of self-management and connecting with others, and model their own core values that promote a healthy response to a difficult situation. Use opportunities at home, at school and in recreational settings to teach children how to connect with others and live their values of honesty, respect and kindness.   

5. Make a volunteer plan. Children become resilient when they can contribute to the world — when they make things better not just for themselves, but for others. Volunteer service helps children develop the confidence that they can cope with and even improve a tough situation. Volunteering with your children in a service project builds a close parent-child bond that reinforces resiliency.  

little girl with Down syndrome laughing with parents

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6. Focus on wellness. When children are stressed, they make poor decisions and have setbacks. Resilient children learn techniques over time to reduce their stress and regain a balanced outlook on the world. Teach your children deep-breathing techniques, mindfulness and how exercise, rest and good nutrition all play a part in reducing stress. 

7. Use adverse events as an opportunity. Adverse events in our families and in our community present unique opportunities to teach children to reach out to others, manage their stress and plan their response. If we are successful, then our children grow to feel more competent and confident in the face of adversity. They are more prepared to face the next challenge that comes along and to grow into adulthood with these important life skills.  

adoptive parents receiving parent counseling with their adopted child

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All parents encounter challenges as their children grow up. And sometimes, issues may arise that leave you uncertain as to how best to respond. But not every issue requires therapy or counseling. The PACE program is here to help during those times.

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