Building resilience in kids & teens: Tips for parents

Building resilience in kids & teens: Tips for parents

Building resilience in kids is one of the best ways to help them cope with life’s challenges. From friendships that go wrong to exams that don’t go to plan. Here’s how to build resilience at any age.


Related: Life skills for kids



What is resilience & why is it important?

Resilience is the ability to cope with stress, change and adversity. Strong levels enable kids to bounce back from difficult experiences and try again when things go wrong. It’s an important life skill as it helps kids overcome challenges and achieve their goals while maintaining a positive outlook.


Resilient people are also more likely to have strong relationships with others. This is because they can cope with stress and difficult emotions healthily. Despite some children being naturally more resilient than others, research shows that resilience is not innate. It grows from a range of factors, including positive and supportive parental relationships, connection to peers, and a set of skills that you can help build in your child.


Why do some children struggle to build resilience?

Resilience is not a fixed trait. It’s something that is learnt and developed over time. If your child struggles to build resilience, be patient. Some children can easily pick themselves up and try again, while others struggle to build resilience because they may have learned that the world is scary and unpredictable, or they may not believe they can cope with challenges. 

Activities to help build resilience in kids

  1. Give your child challenges

  2. Help kids find a sense of purpose

  3. Give them chores to do

  4. Expose kids to new experiences

  5. Laugh more often

  6. Model resilience to them

  7. Watch films and read books about resilience

  8. Help children develop a growth mindset

  9. Allow them to express disappointment

  10. Get kids to identify their strengths


As we all know, you can explain something to your kids a thousand times, and it won't sink in, which is where real-world practice with life skill activities comes in. Here are the activities which help build resilience.


Give your child challenges

Help kids understand that challenges are a normal part of life by regularly asking them to do small things that take them out of their comfort zone. This could be asking for something in a shop, solving a puzzle, making a new friend or learning a new skill such as riding a bike.


Help kids find a sense of purpose

They may hate school and find chores boring, but helping them identify a sense of purpose in these things can make them more resilient. Ask your kids, 'What do you want to be?' "How will you make that happen?' 'What will help you to get there?'. And build a goal chart that shows them the purpose of everything they must do.


Give them chores to do

Chores teach resilience in an easy way. When kids do a range of chores, they learn that hard work is necessary to achieve goals. This can help them to develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that they can learn and grow over time. Chores require kids to prioritise their time and manage their responsibilities. This is an important skill for resilience, as it teaches kids how to deal with multiple demands and stay organised.

Related: How to teach responsibility to a child


Expose kids to new experiences

The more new experiences your kids have, the more resilient they will be. Take them to new places, encourage them to try new foods, and make friends with different kinds of people. These activities build resilience as it helps kids to understand that you can learn and grow from all experiences, good and bad.


Laugh more often

Kids often don't need encouragement to laugh, but older kids might. Laughter has been found to boost resilience, so encourage older kids to find funny things to show you, tell you funny stories and watch funny films with you.


Model resilience to them

Show your child how you deal with challenges in a positive way. When things go wrong at work, when you are driving, or even when you fail at something, show them how you cope, and get up and move on.




Watch films and read books about resilience

Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel films, Disney and Pixar films all tackle how to be resilient and show how characters bounce back when things go wrong. Watch and read together and talk about how the characters find ways to be resilient.


Help children develop a growth mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that you can learn and grow no matter what happens. Play the "Change your words, change your mindset" activity. This activity helps kids to see how their language can impact their mindset. Ask kids what they are not good at; for example, they might say, "I'm not good at maths," then change it to a growth mindset phrase, such as "I can learn maths."


Allow them to express disappointment

While we all want our kids to bounce back and try again, but allowing kids to express sadness and disappointment is also important. If kids are not allowed to express their feelings, it can hinder resilience as they aren't dealing with emotions healthily.


Get kids to identify their strengths

Everyone is good at something, but only some see their strengths. Help your child to see theirs by getting them to ask three people (a friend, a relative and a teacher) what their top strengths are. Seeing themselves through the eyes of others can help kids to realise they are more confident and capable than they may think.


Tips for parents to help build resilience in kids

Let your child fail

While it can be painful to see your child fail, it is essential to let them. When kids fail, they learn how to deal with disappointment in a healthy way and develop resilience to pick themselves up. 

Encourage a wide range of experiences

Often kids will say they don’t want to do something or try something because it’s a new experience and they are unsure. The wider the range of experiences you expose them to, the more adaptable they will become and the bigger their growth mindset will be.

Don’t always step in to help

If you always step in to help, your child won’t learn to be a problem solver. Problem-solving is a key component of resilience, enabling kids to consider how to do things differently and try again. 

Avoid micromanaging

You may be doing this to ensure your child does things correctly or safely, but when kids feel like they are constantly being watched and micromanaged, they are less likely to take risks or try things again when things go wrong.

Listen to their struggles

It can be easy to fall into the trap of encouraging kids to bounce back and not listen to their struggles. Be willing to hear why they feel defeated, fed up and unwilling to try again, and then brainstorm ideas for how they can try again differently.

Encourage them to think positively

Kids who speak positively and think optimistically are likelier to be more resilient and cope better with setbacks and challenges. They are also more likely to persevere in the face of adversity.

Celebrate successes no matter how small

Kids who succeed and are recognised for succeeding feel good about themselves. This positive feeling can help them to believe in their abilities and to be more resilient in the face of challenges.

Reward effort 

Rewarding effort is crucial because it can help to motivate kids to keep trying. When kids are rewarded for their effort, they learn to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Related: How to create an effective reward system for kids

How can GoHenry help?

GoHenry's mission is to make every kid smart with money thanks to a range of great features that help them safely and securely learn about money, from saving to smart spending. In-app Money Missions makes learning about money fun and engaging with videos and quizzes covering everything from the value of money to budgeting. Parents can support their teens/kids through the GoHenry app by setting flexible parental controls and receiving real-time spending alerts whenever they use their GoHenry prepaid kids debit card.






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Written by Anita Naik Published Oct 10, 2023 ● 6 min. read