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Developing Resilience in Children

David Kirkham
David Kirkham (21 posts) Former Principal, NAIS Manila View Profile

We can still learn lessons for life from this global crisis.

We tend to idealize childhood as a carefree time, but youth alone offers no shield against the emotional hurts and traumas many children face. Children can and do deal with many problems daily; the current situation we find ourselves in globally is something that they are well aware of, but they tend to contextualize it in their way. Add to that the uncertainties that are part of growing up and childhood can be anything but carefree. The ability to thrive despite these challenges arises from the skills of resilience.

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The good news is that we can develop resilience.


Building resilience — the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress — can help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. However, being resilient does not mean that children won't experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when we have suffered a significant trauma or personal loss, or even when we hear of someone else's loss.

We all can develop resilience, and we can help our children develop it as well. It involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned over time.

The following are tips for building resilience.

  • Make connections
    Teach your child how to make friends, including the skill of empathy, or feeling another's pain. Encourage your child to be a friend to make friends. Build a strong family network to support your child through his or her inevitable disappointments and hurts. At school, we watch to make sure that a child is not isolated. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. 
  • Please help your child by having him or her help others.
    Children who may feel helpless can are empowered by helping others. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work, or ask for assistance yourself with some task that he or she can master. At school, we have activities for children can think about ways they can help others.
  • Maintain a daily routine
    Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who crave structure in their lives. Please encourage your child to develop his or her routines. Virtual school is a basis for you to be able to structure their day
  • Take a break
    While it is essential to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Teach your child how to focus on something besides what's troubling him/her. Be aware of what your child is exposed to that can be troubling, whether it be news, the Internet or overheard conversations, and make sure your child takes a break from those things if they trouble her. Although schools are held accountable for performance on standardized tests, we build time during the school day to allow children to be creative.
  • Teach your child self-care
    Make yourself a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise, and rest. Make sure your child has time to have fun, and make sure that your child hasn't scheduled every moment of his or her life with no "downtime" to relax. Caring for oneself and even having fun will help your child stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.
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  • Move toward your goals.
    Teach your child to set reasonable goals and then to move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal — even if it's a tiny step — and receiving praise for doing so will focus your child on what he or she has accomplished rather than on what hasn't been accomplished, and can help build the resilience to move forward in the face of challenges. At school, we break down large assignments into small, achievable goals for younger children, and for older children, acknowledge accomplishments on the way to larger goals.
  • Nurture a positive self-view
    Help your child remember ways that he or she has successfully handled hardships in the past and then help him understand that these past challenges help him build the strength to handle future challenges. Help your child learn to trust him or herself to solve problems and make appropriate decisions. Teach your child to see the humour in life and the ability to laugh at one's self. At school, help children understand how their accomplishments contribute to the wellbeing of the class as a whole.
  • Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook.
    Even when your child is facing harrowing events, help him look at the situation in a broader context, and keep a long-term perspective. Although your child may be too young to consider a long-lasting look on his own, help him or her see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be useful. An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times. In school, we use history to show that life moves on after adverse events.
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
    Tough times are often the times when children learn the most about themselves. Help your child take a look at how whatever he or she is facing can teach him "what they are made of." At school, we promote discussions of what each student has learned after facing down a tough situation.
  • Accept that change is part of living.
    Change can often be scary for children and teens. Help your child see that change is part of life, and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable. In school, point out how students have changed as they moved up in grade levels and discuss how that change has had an impact on the students.

Keep safe.



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Adapted from APA Help Center, 

Building Your Resilience, 1st February 2020 

American Psychological Association


If you want to know more about our school but unable to visit due to current travel restrictions, you can book one of our Virtual Discovery Meetings by clicking the link below.


NAIS Manila Virtual Discovery Meeting

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