Encouraging Resilience and Perseverance in your Child
Date Posted:2 July 2020
Learning Perseverance is about continuing to try something even when facing difficulty, failure, or delay.1
Resilience is about overcoming adversity and negative circumstances, as well as handling emotions while remaining healthy and competent. For children, this includes how they overcome challenges they might face throughout their childhood.2
Building resilience and perseverance in your child is important for their mental health as well. It helps them to overcome obstacles more easily and reduces the chances of developing anxiety or other stress-related diseases.
Here are some tips you can use to help your child build resilience and perseverance:
1. Building supportive relationships
The reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship can help lead your child through adversity. Your child will learn to develop vital coping skills and your presence can also help to reduce any changes that are activated by stress. This can prevent any damaging physiological effects on their developing brain, body, and immune system.3 Children learn better when they are loved, accepted, and understood.
2. Encourage and support self-regulation
Self-regulation refers to how we regulate our behaviours and emotions. It is extremely beneficial in the long run for your child to learn how to manage their behaviours from a young age. It is important to talk to your child about their behaviours to help develop their understanding — what is the impact of their behaviour on others, what are the benefits? It will also help them to regulate any stress-induced anger or frustration they might feel in challenging situations.4
Let them do challenging activities for children that might not be achieved easily. Toys such as puzzles, memory games can help build problem-solving skills. Activities such as sudoku can also help build resilience.
It is important to note that it is fine for your child to feel frustrated when they can't solve the puzzles. Helping them acknowledge their frustration can assist them in developing the skills to self-regulate. Encourage them to try again until they succeed!
3. Encourage regular mindfulness practice
Mindfulness creates structural and functional changes to the brain that can help regulate stress. It has a great positive impact on children's, and adults', cognitive development. There are numerous life skills that your child can develop when practicing mindfulness and these skills can help build perseverance and resilience. You can read more about mindfulness and find exercises here.
4. Read to them, or let them read good books
Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. They can infer and learn from the stories they read. Here are a few books that share stories about problem-solving, self-regulation, and perseverance1:
- The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
- How Are You Feeling Today by Molly Potter
- The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
5. Engage in risky play
Risky play is thrilling and a perfect challenge for children to test their limits and build perseverance. It can also help your child develop risk management as they figure out boundaries and develop perseverance.1 Take your child to the playground, bring them hiking, let them play in nature. It is important that you don't let your fear get in the way. Let your child take risks and learn from them. Experts suggest practicing the 17-second rule — i.e., instead of telling your child not to run too fast or climb too high, take a moment (or 17-seconds). Step back and observe how your child is responding to the situation so you can have a better sense of what they are capable of.5
6. Set an example
Like many other life skills, modelling resilience and perseverance is beneficial for your child. They are more than likely to learn from watching you persevere through a problem you are facing. If it's an appropriate discussion, share with them what you're going through and what you're doing to get through the problem. Studies have shown that showing persistence and perseverance yourself can affect how much your child perseveres through their tasks.1
Child-led learning is effective in developing resilience and perseverance
Resilience and perseverance are skills that can't only be taught verbally. Your child will have to go through challenges and sometimes tough situations in order to develop these skills. By being in challenging situations, they will not only develop perseverance and resilience but also learn to problem-solve and manage risk.
1. Arnerich, M. How to Build Resilience and Perseverance in Young Children. (Link)
2. Bobbermen, J. Why building resilience in children is important. (Link)
3. Young, K. Building Resilience in Children — 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies. (Link)
4. Cowley, S. How to Build Better Behaviours in the Early Years. (Link)
5. Toole, B. Risky Play for Children: Why We Should Let Kids Go Outside and then Get Out of The Way. (Link)