Five Ways to Develop Resilience in your Child

Two white tweens crouching in a field of daisies


By Sara Bennett and Francesca Drover


Resilience is what gives people the emotional strength to cope with adversity, trauma, and challenges. Evidence shows that resilience is paramount to developing and maintaining positive mental health and relationships, thereby giving children the best chance to succeed. 

What role do families play in developing resilience?

Parents and caregivers play a significant role in developing resilience in their children. It is not a trait that people have or do not have. Instead, it involves behaviors, thought processes, and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.

1. Connect with others

Connecting with others, especially family and friends, reminds children that they are important, valued, and cared for by others. Making time for uninterrupted conversations where children feel listened to and respected, and providing regular opportunities to play with family members and friends are vital components in developing resilience. Children who are frequently encouraged to help and support others are often more resilient when they themselves need help and support.

2. Develop self-awareness 

Being aware of how we feel and of how we respond to different situations helps us to learn from and improve our behavior. Self-reflection is a powerful tool: not only do children learn from their mistakes but they also become more aware of the impact and consequences of their actions and behaviors for others. 


Daily reflection time as a family can provide time to consider questions like “What was the funniest moment / highlight of your day?” and can also provide opportunities for children to discuss issues or challenges they faced. As part of the self-regulatory process, children should be encouraged to notice and acknowledge emotional responses and what triggered them. 


Parents or carers can model positive affirmations—endorsing examples where self-restraint or consideration for others has been displayed. Remind children that we cannot control everything that happens to us; however, we can control how we respond. 

3. Support a growth mindset

Having a growth mindset is key to developing resilience, as it means children believe they can learn from their mistakes. With a growth mindset, setbacks become normalized and challenges are seen as chances to grow. A growth mindset can be encouraged by:


  • Providing opportunities for children to try new or different experiences. 
  • Helping children to set goals and challenges and to consider for themselves the steps needed to achieve them.
  • Giving children opportunities to make their own decisions and to problem-solve independently.
  • Taking reasonable risks to enable children to experience natural consequences. 
  • Encouraging children to have a positive self-view.

4. Encourage mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way for children to ground themselves so that they are able to engage in the present moment without worrying about past situations or what will happen in the future. 


There is a large variety of mindfulness practices that children can include in their routines, such as:


  • Mindful breathing practices. 
  • Gentle physical exercise like walking or yoga.
  • Calm activities like reading and drawing.
  • Spending time outdoors observing nature and playing with pets. 

5. Establish routines

Routines that include appropriate bedtimes and clear limits on screen time, especially before bed, give children a sense of security. Promoting healthy eating as a family and having mealtimes together is a great way to regularly build in time for discussion and reflection and to also focus on physical health. When children's daily activities are familiar, children become more confident, and it enables them to be more independent and self-sufficient as they know what to expect. 


It is important that parents are aware of their own mental health and engage in practices that support their mental health, including stress management, self-care and leisure activities. By taking care of themselves, parents are better able to care for their children. Furthermore, when parents take care of their own mental health, they model the behaviors and practices that foster resilience in their children.


Photo courtesy of Canva.

About the Authors

Sara Bennett and Francesca Drover are both experienced teachers with extensive middle and senior leadership experience. 

Sara is currently head of Upper Key Stage Two (ages 9–11) at Brighton College Bangkok.

Francesca is deputy head (pastoral) of Brighton College Bangkok’s Prep School.