How to Build Resilience in Kids

How to Build Resilience in Kids

By: Deborah Brooks

I often hear the word resilience as an essential skill that every child needs. So how do we give our kids resilience to survive in this world? I have a few solid recommendations that are easy to implement--dare I say fun.  


But first, what really is resilience and why do kids need it?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stressful situations, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. Resilience is not something that kids either have or don't have; it's a skill that kids develop as they grow. As parents, I believe we need to do all that we can to help build resilience in a safe and constructive way. One of the best (and easy) ways to do this is to encourage kids to have imaginative play in their daily life. 


Does imaginative play really build resilience?

Yes it does! In fact imaginative play provides many positive benefits including building social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. Resilience is part of the emotional skills set. It’s the combination of these four skills that are critical to the holistic development of a child.


But how does imaginative play build resilience?

Pretend play, or imaginative play, is well documented to provide an outlet for children to work out their fears and stresses. Play increases learning and improves brain plasticity. In essence, allowing time for unstructured play has multiple benefits and as a bonus it's easy to do. No planning--just play. Play allows the mind to solve problems encountered when superheroes are fighting off a villain, pirates are navigating a stormy sea, astronauts encounter trouble on a rocket ship, or princesses fight off a dragon.  


As a mom I did make sure my kids had “free play” time every day. I encouraged them to play independently for periods of time and in doing that they created worlds and situations that allowed their imaginations to expand. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Truth is it was. And it gave me a break at the same time. Win win. 


My advice:

Let your kids play. Allow for unstructured time. Provide an environment where they can expand their minds. You will be amazed at their creativity. And you can rest easy knowing you are helping them become better humans. 

 

References:

https://www.psycom.net/build-resilience-children#:~:text=Resilience%20is%20the%20ability%20to,fear%20falling%20short%20of%20expectations

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/building-kids-resilience-through-play-is-more-crucial-than-ever/#:~:text=Play%20provides%20an%20opportunity%20to,as%20well%20as%20cognitive%20ones.

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20182058#:~:text=The%20AAP%20recommends%20that%20pediatricians%3A&text=Just%20as%20pediatricians%20support%20Reach,first%202%20years%20of%20life.