How children learn to deal with challenges or conflict is influenced by how those around them deal with similar issues.
But parents and teachers can do much more to build resilience in children other than modelling resilience through their own actions.
Building resilience enables children to learn strategies to overcome hurdles they are faced with, and then apply these strategies later in life.
While it's natural for parents in particular to want to protect children from negative experiences and failure, it is important that we allow them to navigate life’s challenges to build their own skill set in resilience.
Tips for parents
If you wish you could wrap your child in cotton wool and keep them there, safe and protected for eternity, you’re not alone.
But children will grow up, and they will need their own set of skills to navigate the highs and lows that life will throw at them.
Building resilience in childhood will enable your child to better handle and respond to things like stress, conflict and hardship; some of which are unavoidable parts of life.
You can support your child to build their resilience by:
- Encouraging strong emotional connections with others (one-on-one time, opportunities for play, ways to reach out while in isolation).
- Building your child’s autonomy (e.g. pack own bag, do basic chores). Also, allowing your child opportunities to make meaningful decisions (e.g. give choices and allow your child to select their preference).
- Encouraging your child to ‘brainstorm’ their own solutions to help them learn to problem solve.
- Promoting ‘healthy risk taking’ such as trying a new sport or activity.
- Reflecting with them on how they overcame a recent challenge.
Tips for teachers
Educators can use a range of methods to teach resilience in the classroom by engaging in day-to-day discussion on resilience with individual students, and by incorporating the theme into lessons.
Teaching resilience will help students learn that failure isn’t the end of the world – that the attempt and risk taken is much more valuable than the end result.
Here are some ideas on how you can teach and promote resilience:
- Get students to reflect on personal growth by asking questions like “What were you persistent at today?” and “What is a mistake today that you learned from?” *
- Make comments with a growth mindset in mind, such as “Wow, that was a really good job. You must have worked really hard to be able to achieve it” or “Well done, I know this was tough for you, but your hard work really paid off!” *
- Reward students for stepping out of their comfort zone and giving things a go.
- Use practical examples of resilience, and enlist the help of a book, videos or other media to support these learnings.
*Source: Teaching Resilience in Schools and Fostering Resilient Learners
Tips for parents AND teachers
Children primarily learn about resolving conflict through their observations of others.
Home and school are highly influential settings, with parents and educators being important role models. Together, parents and teachers can:
- Encourage children to label, express, and manage emotions. Acknowledge their emotions, and model appropriate coping/calming techniques such as positive self-talk, deep breathing, drawing, etc.
- Structure learning opportunities for negotiation, sharing, turn-taking and problem solving.
- Be mindful of and respect differences.
CatholicCare Schools Unit
More resources for parents:
More resources for teachers: