How can I help build my toddler’s resilience?

Some children might find coping with change a bit frightening. They might feel meeting new people is scary or that learning a new skill such as walking or reading is too hard.

Children and adults find different situations stressful but the feelings are similar. How we cope with these situations, learn from them and move on depends on how resilient we are.

Resilience is our “bounce-back ability”. It’s how easy we find it to bounce back from the obstacles life throws at us.

A toddler in a white dress walks through a garden with their hands on their cheeks.

Why is resilience important?

  • Being resilient helps your child be curious, brave and trust their instincts.
  • They come to know their limits and push themselves out of their comfort zone when they are older.
  • This can help them problem solve and cope better as they grow up.
  • Children can’t avoid stressful situations, as much as parents might wish they could. Teaching them to be resilient will help them navigate the tough times.

Teaching your child resilience

Resilience is something we are born with. We can build on our resilience throughout our lives. Parents can boost their children’s resilience through their everyday interactions and activities.

  • Build loving relationships. Having safe, loving relationships makes children feel good about themselves. It’s important they know someone is there to protect them and wipe away their tears when things go wrong. This will give them the confidence to continue exploring their world.
  • Be a good role model. Children learn from the adults around them. When you cope well with every day stress, you are showing your children how to do the same.
  • Let your child know it’s okay to ask for help. This will make it easier for them to ask for help in the future. If they find it difficult, you could come up with a sign to use when they need help. This might be a code word, or they could put a specific toy in a spot you choose together.
  • Encourage your child to keep trying when they find learning a new skill difficult, “you can do it!” or “well done for trying so hard!”
  • Build their confidence by pointing out all the things you are proud of about your child. “You are so funny!”, “you are very kind and caring”, or “you try very hard”.

Read more about resilience for 0-6 year olds in the ‘Building resilience in young children’ booklet.

Help them with problem-solving

  • Support your child’s thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Play thinking games with children aged three and over.
  • Let them go wild here, there are no right or wrong answers.
  • Try asking them:
    • “What do you think will happen if……?”
    • “What are you saying to yourself in your head?”
    • “If you were a superhero, what would you do?”
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