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Building resilience in young children

Some children might find coping with change a bit frightening, feel meeting new people is scary or learning a new skill such as walking or reading is just too hard.

Stressful situations for children are different from what adults find stressful but the feelings are similar. How we cope with these situations, learn and move on from, depends on how resilient we are.

Resilience is our ‘bounce-back ability’. It’s how easy we find it to bounce back from the obstacles that life inevitably throws at us.

How can I build resilience in my child?

Loving relationships

Having safe, loving relationships makes children feel good about themselves and knowing someone is there to protect them and wipe away their tears when things go wrong, will give them the confidence to continue exploring their world.

Role model

Children learn from the adults around them. When you cope well with every day stress, you are showing your children how to do the same.

Asking for help

Letting children know its ok to ask for help will make it easier for them to ask for help in the future. You can give your child a sign to use if they find this easier than saying it.


Encourage your child to keep trying when they find learning a new skill difficult, “you can do it!” or “well done for trying so hard!”

Thinking games

Play thinking games with children aged three and over to support their thinking and problem-solving skills:

  • “what do you think will happen if……?”
  • “what are you saying to yourself in your head?”
  • “If you were a super hero, what would you do?”

Let their imagination go wild here. There are no right or wrong answers!

Building confidence

Build confidence by pointing out all the things you are proud of about your child, “you are so funny!”, “You are very kind and caring”, or “you try very hard”.

Resilience is something we are born with but can build on throughout our lives. Parents can boost their children’s resilience through their everyday interactions and activities.

More information about building resilience in young children is available in this ‘Building resilience in young children’ booklet which is for parents of children from birth-six years.


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