Promoting Resilience in Children

May 3, 2023 | Author: Meiby Nodarse, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, TBRI® Practitioner & Michele Rogan


Many people would define resilience as the ability to bounce back after being struck down, or continue to persevere down a path despite its challenges. Resilience in children can be described as the likelihood that a child will succeed even when they have faced risky, harmful and difficult situations. Being resilient takes work, and for children that have been through hard times, it takes growth and confidence through the people around them.

Can a child get into college even though they’ve never had a secure home? Yes! Can a young adult land a job even though they were forced to move around many times? Yes! Can a person support and help others even though they were neglected as a child? Yes! It’s all possible when caregivers, friends, and leaders pour out encouragement and instill hope into every child who has experienced trauma. So, what are some practical ways we can do this?

There are 6 protective factors that can increase resilience and reduce the chances that a child will develop emotional or behavioral problems in response to a difficult situation. They include:

  1. Having developmentally appropriate conversations that release the child from blame and responsibility of traumatic or difficult events
  2. Supportive and healthy adult and peer relationships that encourage the child and help build their confidence
  3. Stability and predictability in their home and daily routine
  4. Nurturing caregivers that use loving language and actions to connect with the child
  5. Developing external and internal coping skills through participation in therapy services
  6. Participation in activities or hobbies that interest them and foster their talents, including positive experiences with faith and participation in a church community

Next time you’re sitting at the dinner table with the family, try asking some of the questions below to get the conversation started and bring awareness to protective factors:

  1. Describe 1 thing you are good at, have knowledge about, or enjoy doing
  2. Describe a time you overcame a challenge or a time you found a solution to a problem
  3. Describe something you are proud of
  4. What are some activities, hobbies, sports, or community groups you are a part of?

Through our work with kids, we’ve found at 4KIDS that the way to help kids overcome negative relational experiences is to create positive relational experiences in their stead. As caregivers, we should prioritize focusing on the positive things in a child’s life, such as what they excel at, or what sport they enjoy, instead of spending the majority of the time harping on what the child is doing wrong. It’s so important to focus on a child’s strengths rather than their weaknesses, especially for a child who has been through trauma. When you allow them to think about moments they were proud of how they responded, or talk about things they love about themselves, it enables their mind to believe they are capable of making good choices. Encourage them to believe in themselves and believe that they are capable, even when things are challenging or don’t go their way the first time. As children of the Lord, we may be crushed, but never destroyed.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9