Emotional Resilience

specialist woman helping young child communicate with cards

We all experience stressful or difficult times in our lives and how well we are able to cope with these often depends on skills have learnt at an early age, our emotional resilience.

Evidence has shown that the following can help a child or young person cope better with life’s up and downs:

  • Nurturing children in a non-judgemental way
  • Strong attachment and supportive relationships with family members
  • Family providing structure, expectations of behaviour, rules, predictability
  • Safety
  • Friendships
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional self-regulation
  • Good education/academic achievement
  • Positive body image
  • Engagement and connection in two or more of the following – school, peers, athletics, employment, religion, culture
  • Making useful contributions to their society
  • Affirmation of sexuality

Try some of the tips to help build your child’s resilience…


  • Spend time doing things with your child that you both enjoy
  • Show your affection regularly through hugs and kisses
  • Ask them open questions about what they have done, what they like and don’t like
  • Do activities that are new, be positive and supportive eg ‘ that was tricky but you tried really hard’
  • Label their emotions for them to help them understand them eg ‘ you look sad that Billy wouldn’t play’
  • Encourage time with friends and family and to join local groups to meet people nearby
  • Model turn taking, sharing, compromising etc when playing at home so they learn these skill
  • Build up their independence, gradually increasing the complexity, eg getting dressed themselves
  • Give your child choices with meaning to them eg what to read/ eat for snack/wear
  • Let them get bored – and see where their imagination takes them
  • Allow them to experience everyday adversity such as going out for a walk when it’s cold and rainy

Primary age children

  • Spend time doing things with your child that you both enjoy
  • talk about what they like and don’t like and be accepting of differences between you and your child
  • use open questions to find out what’s happening in their life
  • show affection and acceptance regularly
  • listen carefully to their worries and try to understand their point of view
  • ask your child how you can best support them if they are struggling
  • Encourage time with friends and family
  • Encourage them to try new activities and to meet new people/friends
  • Validate their emotions but don’t necessarily try to ‘fix’ them. Difficult emotions are part of everyday life and children need to learn how to cope with them
  • Help your child think about how others are feeling and how to support them if they are having a tough time. This can be in real life situations or through books/stories
  • Encourage your child to be curious about others, what they like, their feelings
  • Build up their independence eg getting their own lunch and gradually increase the complexity of the tasks
  • Talk to your child about how to deal with a problem rather than solving it for them. Remind them that people are around to help them.
  • Allow them to make meaningful decisions eg where to go, what colour to paint their room
  • Let them get bored, this often sparks our imagination and helps us have thinking time to process things.
  • Help them develop health thinking habits so when facing a challenge ‘ I can’t do this’ turns into ‘ I can’t do this YET’ or ‘it isn’t my favourite thing but I’ll cope’.
  • Encourage your child to have a go and allow them to fail so they can learn how to cope with it. Help them put it into perspective
  • Talk to them about difficult times and that these are a part of life. Let them lose at games.


Below are links to useful links with tips on how to help support children develop resilience.

Five ways to build your child’s resilience – BBC Bitesize

Product 4 – Emotional health and resilience (pelorous.com)

Building resilience in children and teens – Family Lives

Kooth www.kooth.com

Togetherall- www.togetherall.com

Mind Fresh- MyResources @ MindFresh (nelft.nhs.uk)

Suffolk Mind have collaborated with a headteacher to write a storybook aimed at 4-5 year olds, teaching them about how important it is to look after their mental health. you can purchase a copy oft he book https://www.suffolkmind.org.uk/support-sammy-crowdfunding-appeal/

Essex Family Support Service

Service Contact