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Promoting Resilience

Dear Elizabeth,
My 4-year-old niece has a history of verbal abuse in her home. Her parents yell at each other all the time. How can I help her cope with this?
Rachel Dupont
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
  • Develop a trusting, caring relationship with your child
  • Let your child know that you love & accept her unconditionally
  • Provide consistent rules & routines
  • Let your child know that she is important
  • Help your child learn to communicate her thoughts & feelings
Expert Advice
Dr. Charles Sophy
Dr. Charles Sophy
Child psychiatrist
Resilience is the ability to work through or to recover from a hardship, either emotional or physical. Resilience is important because learning they can pick themselves up from something (such as a fall for example) or work through issues with their friends or at home makes a child feel secure, flexible and independent. Resilience also fosters a sense of self-reliance that is a vital piece in becoming a healthy adult. It also implies that we work through issues and don’t run from them, which is something children need to see from their adult role models.

If a child hasn’t developed resilience, issues may arise where they may not want to problem-solve within their lives. They may not want to face their problems head-on. They won’t have the coping skills or inner strength to get through tough situations that can ultimately change them for the better.

Being resilient themselves is the best way adults can promote resilience in their children. Show children how to work through problems by example—by working through your problems with your partner or other adults. Talk about difficult times and how you had relied on others and eventually made it through. Talk about how these situations made you stronger.

Teaching your children to work through their problems with friends rather than just fixing is integral to building resilience. It can be a positive thing to let children struggle through relationships a little bit in order to help them navigate as they get older. With some parental navigation, finding their own way is often the best teacher.
Child Care Provider Comments
Annette Westwood
Annette Westwood
Mother of two
My four-year-old son Max has faced some adversities recently. His dad and I got separated a year and a half ago and he started a new full-time preschool. With all the changes, he’s having separation anxiety. So to help him, I spend time with him and give him a lot of love, attention and positive reinforcement. I play a lot of games with him and try to spend as much time as I can with him to make it less stressful. I try to pick him up early from preschool as much as I can. We have dinner together and read books every night.
Eve Del Real
Eve Del Real
Child Care Provider for 3 years
It is very important to open the lines of communication with children. It is very simple. By asking them questions such as, “How are you?” you are introducing the opportunity to talk with them. Sit and talk with them about how they are feeling. It’s all about taking time and being patient with them. Also observe how they answer and what activities they are interested in doing. It is important to talk to the children because without communication we will never know how the children are.
Janis Sanders
Janis Sanders
Grandmother of four
My granddaughter has a bladder issue. She has to be catheterized four times a day. I try to help her become more resilient by comforting her and telling her how proud I am of her. We let her know how brave and special she is. She gets a lot of attention and love. I never get mad at her when she has an accident. We let her know that we care about her in all ways not just because of this.

Rules and Routines Featured Activity:
Rules and Routines
Promoting Resilience Featured Video:
Promoting Resilience
Topic: Social & Emotional Development
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The Importance of Schedules and Routines
Identify and Express Emotions
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