Strengthening your child’s resilience

Father and daughter smiling with basketball

Father and daughter smiling with basketball

Resilience is an important trait that you can help to foster in both your child and the family unit – to make both stronger.

What is resilience?

Everyone experiences tough times. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by these experiences and find it hard to recover. At other times we find it easier to ‘bounce back’ when facing these challenges. This capacity to cope with and adapt to tough times is known as resilience.

What influences our level of resilience?

Our level of resilience is always changing in response to what is happening in our lives and in the community. It is influenced by things such as:

  • how safe and secure we feel in our relationships and communities
  • our sense of belonging (to family, community and culture)
  • how we have learnt to prepare for and cope with challenges
  • our sense of hope about the future.

Helping to strengthen your child’s resilience

When it comes to strengthening your child’s resilience, it’s helpful to think about the ‘power of the ordinary’. It’s the ordinary, everyday things that we don’t give much thought to that can make all the difference. So when you think about what you can do to support your child’s resilience – remember that you probably already are!

The time you spend with your child enjoying stories together, playing, getting them to school, helping them to catch up with friends – these are all important and powerful things that help support their resilience.

So, what are the characteristics of a resilient child? 

  • A strong, supportive bond with parents
    A parent’s interest and involvement in daily activities teaches a child that they are valued and important. Spending time with your child, listening and showing affection, helps them to feel secure.
  • Positive self-esteem
    Focusing on your child’s strengths and complimenting their successes can increase their motivation and enthusiasm, helping them to trust themselves.
  • Optimism
    Showing your child how to think positively is a huge ‘protective’ factor against them developing future mental health problems. You can teach your child how to ‘look on the bright side’, cope with things when they don’t go their way and how to learn from adversity.

  • Good social skills
    Helping your child to develop social skills by interacting with others outside of the home teaches them about how to make friends, how to communicate, resolve conflict and have a sense of humour.
  • Stable routines
    Ensuring that daily routines are predictible can be reassuring to your child. Daily rituals like dinner together, or reading together at bedtime are a great way to build the parent-child bond and maintain a stable routine.
  • Understanding of self-care
    Being a role model in regards to a healthy lifestyle, rest, good coping strategies and asking for help when needed, shows your child how to look after themselves.
  • Self-reflection
    Being able to practice self-reflection helps your child to problem-solve and develop perspective. It encourages recognition of feelings and helps your child to understand themselves and develop independence.  

Strengthening resilience when you’re unwell

To help you learn more about how you can help strengthen your child’s resilience when you or you partner are experiencing mental illness, read through the following pages:

More information about resilience