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How to Raise a Resilient Child

How to Raise a Resilient Child – tips for raising and parenting resilient children from Infant Mental Health Specialist at Early On, Marian Orihel.

Whenever I speak at a Great Start Collaborative-Oakland parent conference, I try to commit to only one session so I can take advantage of attending one of the courses offered. This past conference, I was able to attend a session titled “Building a Resilient Child”.


The information was so valuable and interesting. I’m sharing it here in hopes that it will be useful to others as well.

Resilience is the ability to recover or bounce back from unexpected life challenges. We all face challenges, and how we react is a reflection of how resilient we are. Resilience is an important life skill. Resilient children are better equipped to cope with life, resist stress, and recover faster and more completely from traumatic events.

Studies found that there were differences among children who were found to be resilient vs. those that were not considered very resilient. As parents, there are things you can do to help raise a resilient child.

When children are faced with challenges (illness, divorce, poverty, etc.) from day to day, it may lead a child toward less resilient behaviors. However, studies have shown that even those children who were faced with risk factors are still able to become a resilient person if they have a significant person in their lives that is outside of the messed up situation that they live within.

When children are supported with protection from day to day, it may encourage a child toward more resilient behaviors. Secure and loving relationships, security, low family conflict, extended family support, quality school, faith… all encourage a child to be resilient.

Additionally, if children feel confident that loved ones “have their back,” then they are more likely to grow up resilient. And, if parents demonstrate resilience on a day-to-day basis, e.g. things happen, but show that we’ll get through it and we’ll be ok and safe, they are setting the stage for a resilient child.

Here are even more tips on How to Raise a Resilient Child

  • We’ve all heard how kids thrive on structure and rules within the home. This style has also shown to build resilience.
  • Setting up good role models for your child
  • Encourage your child to be autonomous, i.e do things on their own
  • Make sure your child knows that he/she is in trusting relationships with those close to him/her
  • Teach your child to communicate their feelings, problem solve, and manage their feelings, and practice these skills with others

As parents, it is important to provide unconditional love and express it physically and verbally. When enforcing rules, be sure to be firm yet friendly and never belittle the child. Always model behavior that communicates confidence and optimism. You are your child’s most influential role model. And, oddly enough, be careful not to tell your child “Good job” too often. As parents, we should aim to praise more for the effort. e.g. if you attend your child’s gymnastics class and he finally got his somersault, don’t over praise him with a big “Good Job!” Instead, say something like “I love how hard you worked today on your somersault. It was so much fun watching you do that.”

To build resilience as kids begin to get older, be sure to also give them comfort and encouragement in stressful situations; accept errors and failures while providing guidance toward improvement; encourage a child to show empathy and do nice things for others, and help the child to begin to accept responsibility for their own behaviors/actions and see that actions have consequences.

On a last note, an interesting test to see how your child is progressing with regard to resilience is to ask him the question “What is it about you that people enjoy and like?” If he has a difficult time answering, you may have some work to do.

The How to Raise a Resilient Child instructor was Marian Orihel, M of Ed, IMH-E® (III) and Infant Mental Health specialist of the Early On program at Oakland Schools. I highly recommend using the free parenting services that Great Start Collaborative Oakland County provides – the information is invaluable.

See related posts below for more on Great Start Collaborative-Oakland.

For more How to Raise a Resilient Child tips, visit Great Start Collaborative Oakland

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