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Resilience is an important trait that we all rely on in adult life. Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”.

Children who develop resilience are able to bounce back from adversity, failure or even just life’s challenges. This is a skill that children develop as they grow – they are not born with it. Parents and teachers can encourage the growth of resilience. Children who become resilient can trust their instincts and push themselves to take healthy risks. They develop problem-solving capacities, and do not need to rely on an adult to decide everything for them. They learn to resolve conflict with peers themselves. Adult intervention may always be necessary, but it may not be helpful if it comes too soon.

Most parents instinctively want to protect their children from everything, but there are some life stresses that we can’t help them with. A house move, the death of a beloved grandparent or even school exams can overwhelm some children, but helping them learn the skills to cope will prepare them for the stresses of adult life. It is necessary to experience a certain level of discomfort so that children and young people can work through problems. If children don’t develop resilience, they can experience anxiety and may shut down in the face of adversity.

You can help children develop these skills:

  • Encourage them to take safe risks such as trying a new sport.

  • Brainstorming and asking questions rather than giving the answer to a problem helps children work out the answer for themselves.

  • Label emotions – children need to know what it is that they are feeling and that it is OK and will pass eg sadness.

  • Embrace failure – yours and theirs. Failure avoiders tend to be anxious. It can be helpful to talk about a mistake you made and how you learnt from it.

  • Be optimistic – help your child reframe their thoughts to find the positive.

Resilient children will grow into successful adults who can cope with life’s stresses and navigate the obstacles that life throws in their way. We should all help children to develop these skills.

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