Baby's First Year · Parenting

Building resilience: What is it and why is it important?

Toddler smiling while walking outdoors

This is the fourth part of my brain development series. As a quick summary of this series, I’ve shared:

This last and final part will focus on resilience.

“Resilience is not something you’re born with.  It’s something that gets built over time.” ~Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Harvard University

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to overcome difficulty or challenges and deal with stress. Resilience doesn’t prevent stress or difficulties from happening, it helps us meet the challenges we face and overcome them. It protects the developing brain from the negative effects of stress. 

Why is resilience important?

Wavy road sign

Life is full of challenges and avoiding stress is impossible. Building resilience in our kids will help them face challenges and keep going even when they feel like giving up. Being resilient makes it more likely that they will have:

  • better health
  • longer life
  • more success in school and work
  • happier relationships
  • less depression

Resilience helps us meet the challenges we face and overcome them.

How do we build resilience?

  1. Caring relationships: Children do best when they are protected from harm and feel loved, understood and accepted. Feeling wanted and loved helps children cope with stress in their life. Parents/caregivers can do this by:
    • comforting them when they are upset
    • giving them attention and affection
    • playing with them
    • listening to their thoughts, feeling and ideas

  2. Positive role models: Young children copy what others say and do. Teach your child positive ways to handle stress by role modeling them. When you are feeling stressed:
    • stay calm and be flexible
    • control your emotions by taking 3 deep breaths
    • express your feelings in a constructive way
    • stay positive
    • ask for help or find a parenting program in your neighbourhood
  1. Develop coping skills: Children are not born with resilience. Responsive and caring relationships with adults help children build the skills they need to manage stress and cope with difficulties. Skills such as:
    • planning ahead
    • problem solving
    • self control
    • managing emotions

To build better futures, we need to build better brains!

Watch the video from Alberta Family Wellness (7:43 minutes) to learn more about building healthy brains.  It’s almost 8 minutes long but it’s entertaining, educational and worth watching.

For more information:


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