10 Strategies to help kids develop resilience

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10 Strategies to help kids develop resilience

Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from life’s difficulties. For many young people it is vital to help them develop resilience strategies that promote well-being and develop coping mechanisms. Many resilient teenagers are seen as resourceful and are emotionally and mentally balanced.

Andrew Fuller is a clinical psychologist and Generation Next speaker, he describes resilience as “the happy knack of being able to bungy jump through the pitfalls of life – to rise above adversity and obstacles.”

Tips for building resilience in children*
1. Make connections
Teach children how to make friends and develop empathy. Encourage them to be a friend in order to get friends. At school, watch to make sure that one child is not being isolated. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience.
2. Teach children to help others
Children who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. Ask for help with a task they can master. At school, brainstorm with children about ways they can help others.
3. Daily routine
Following a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who crave structure in their lives. Encourage children to develop their own routines.
4. Take a break
Although it is important to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Show children how to focus on something besides what’s worrying them.
5. Self-care for children
Teach child the importance of making time to eat properly, groom themselves, exercise and rest. Children need ‘down time’ to relax, so make sure that not all free time is filled with a scheduled activity.
6. Goals
Teach children to set reasonable goals and move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal and receiving praise for doing so will focus children on what they have accomplished.
7. Nurture a positive self-view
Help children remember ways that they have successfully handled hardships in the past and how this can help them handle future challenges. Help children learn to trust themselves to solve problems and make appropriate decisions.
8. Be optimistic
Even when children are facing very painful events, help them look at the situation in a broader context. A positive outlook enables children to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times.
9. Self-discovery
Change and tough times are often when children learn the most about themselves. Help children to see that this is a good time to find out “what they are made of.”  Change can be scary for young people, help them to see that change is part of life.
10. Make home a safe haven
In high school, taunting and bullying can intensify – home should be a haven, especially as your teen encounters more freedoms and choices and looks to home to be a constant, safe and emotionally secure place in his or her life.

The Resilience Doughnut
Developed in Australia, The Resilience Doughnut builds resilience by considering both the internal qualities of a resilient person as well as the factors in the person’s environment which support and interact with those internal qualities. It is simple and practical and can be taught in a workshop format to school students.

Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People Seminars
If you want to find out more about resilience you can hear Andrew Fuller speak go to Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People.

*American Psychological Association

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Andrew Fuller. American Psychological Association. The Resilience Doughnut.


  1. Jolie Young February 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    I really believe the tip on self-discovery is so important for the development of our youth, too often young people don’t try new things due to fear of failure and percieved judgement. How good would it be to break this cycle and foster openess to change and uniqueness.

  2. brendon June 20, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    As per Richard Fletcher’s amazing book The Dad Factor, kids and especially girls get resiliene from playfights, the way dads let kids win, gently test their strength and provide safe touch and tickles etc, despite the odd accidental elbow or fall, it all adds to the kids ability to cope with emotional issues and bounce back! Plus it helps kids learn to calm down after an exciting/energised exercise session, helps them learn to calm down in stressful situations later in life!

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