Encouraging resilience in kids can help them develop lifelong skills for overcoming any obstacle. With the right tools and advice, you can help your children build up their resilience so that they can thrive in life, no matter what challenges come their way.
At the beginning of my parenting journey I unknowingly passed by hundreds of opportunities for me and my kids to develop resilience.
When my kids were younger I made the mistake of thinking that my job was to make everything easy or comfortable for my kids. I often offered help in the name of keeping things calm instead of allowing my kids to face frustration and experience finding their own solution.
Why Does Building Resilience Matter?
Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity, to pick oneself up after a fall. We all face setbacks in life, and it’s important to have the strength to overcome them. Our job as parents isn’t to make our kids happy all the time. Our job is to prepare them for living fulfilling lives and we need resilience to face the daily challenges we’re bound to meet.
Both adults and children can develop resilience, this ability to bounce back from adversity.
Each time we support our child through doing something on their own, we help them build resilience and increase their own competence and capability bank.
Sometimes it’s frustrating that it takes longer at first for kids to do things on their own. However, a Montessori principle stands true here: when we shortcut by doing something for our kids that they could manage on their own, it’s not a true shortcut. It only leaves something they will still need to practice later.
10 Phrases to Help Kids Develop Resilience
The first step to encouraging resilience is to allow kids to attempt problem solving without rescuing them from their frustration right away. It’s helpful to have a few phrases ready to support them for the next time your child is struggling.
Read through, try a few of these, and perhaps come up with some of your own ideas to try as well. Practice saying these phrases in a neutral tone of voice to avoid sounding sarcastic.
How will you handle that?
This question asks your child to think about what they’d like to do and assumes they are capable of coming up with ideas. It builds up their belief in themselves that they can come up with their own ideas and solutions.
Would you like to practice what you’ll say with me ahead of time?
Sometimes, we know our kids are going into a challenging situation. Instead of rescuing them from a hard conversation, we can offer to help them prepare.
How can you take care of that?
Instead of fixing something that a child is complaining about, we can ask them something like this to remind them of their ability to take action.
How do you feel about that?
Part of building resilience is learning that how we feel about something gives us good information. The more we can help our kids tap into their emotions and trust themselves, the more they’ll have a strong sense of self and clarity about what matters most to them. This allows them to make decisions more confidently.
What do you think about that?
Similar to asking how they feel, asking kids what they think and really listening to their responses builds up their sense of self-worth. Learning that what they think matters increases their trust in themselves to handle challenges.
I have faith in you. I’m sure you can handle it.
Just knowing someone has our back goes a long way in facing tough situations. This is why encouragement matters.
Wow, that sounds challenging.
The point of this phrase is that rather than trying to fix something, we can simply reflect that we hear how hard things are. We can be empathetic while also holding someone capable.
It looks like you’re working really hard on that.
Acknowledging a child’s hard work can help them take pride in their efforts.
Give it a try. This can just be an experiment to see what happens.
Reminding kids that they don’t have to be perfect gives them the opportunity to grow and learn. Knowing you can ‘experiment’ makes it much easier to try hard things.
Do as much as you can, and I’ll help with the parts you can’t do on your own.
This phrase reminds kids that you are there to help and hopefully gets them started on their own so they can push their comfort zone just a little bit.
20 Resilience Quotes For Kids
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.