How to Build Kids’ Resilience

Resilience is an important skill that no one is born with. Kids who have skills in resilience are able to bounce back from disappointment sooner. They often overcome obstacles more successfully, and are more likely to persevere through challenges. Here are some of the ways we can help children build these important skills in class and at home.

1. Instill a Growth Mindset

Students who have a growth mindset view their ability to learn as evolving. They know that intelligence is not fixed and that they can succeed with hard work and effort. Students with a fixed mindset, on the other hand, might look at a poor grade and see it as a reflection of their capabilities. But a student with a growth mindset might look at that same grade and see it as an opportunity to learn. They might see it as a signal that they did not study hard enough on a test, or work hard enough on a project. Students with a growth mindset face their mistakes and failures head on and attempt to learn from them.

2. Model Positive Self-Talk

Students with more confidence and self-esteem are always more resilient. One of the best ways to build confidence is to model how students should talk to and about themselves. This is called positive self-talk, and students learn it best through example. When the adults around them talk about themselves in positive and encouraging ways, kids learn to do the same.

3. Encourage Healthy Risk-Taking

We don’t often think of “risks” as something we should encourage. But healthy risk-taking doesn’t mean putting oneself in unsafe or perilous situations. Taking healthy risks means embracing those situations that push us outside of our emotional or intellectual comfort zone. This might include trying a brand new activity we’ve never done before, or presenting in front of a group of people when we are scared of public speaking. The more we can encourage students to take these healthy types of risks, the more resilient they’ll become.

4. Help Build Coping Skills and Teach Emotional IQ

In order to become more resilient, students need to develop coping skills for those times when they face challenges and difficulties. This requires the self-awareness to recognize when they are becoming overwhelmed or stressed beyond productivity. When these feelings arise, students need mechanisms for bringing themselves back to a calm state, like a mantra or breathing strategy. This recognition and these tools require developing emotional awareness and intelligence. The best promote this awareness in students is to frequently use language that describes emotions and offer students plenty of structured opportunities to talk about their feelings using relevant vocabulary.

5. Let Kids Learn How to Problem Solve On Their Own

Sometimes our best intentions lead us to try to solve all of our children’s problems for them. When we see our students or our own kids in any kind of unrest or distress, we just want to fix it for them. But that doesn’t teach them how to face these problems on their own, which they will eventually need to learn how to do. We can begin letting kids solve their own problems by modeling the process and by being there to guide and support, but not spoon-feed them the solution every time they encounter conflict.