What makes a resilient child? Well, there is no one factor that makes one child more resilient than another but it is rather a mixture of environmental influence and genetic disposition that determines their level of resilience. Some children are naturally more sensitive to negative outcomes but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the capacity to learn strategies for resiliency. Every child is born with a certain level of genetic tolerance towards maltreatment or neglect, but the genes that drive this resilience are sometimes only expressed once the child is put into a stressful situation that brings these characteristics to the forefront. It is helpful to think of resiliency as the base of a scale, with one side representing the positive outcomes in life and the other the negative outcomes with the weight of each side swaying the child’s level of resiliency.

Adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, poverty, poor physical health, mental health issues, homelessness, discrimination or other barriers to positive outcomes greatly contribute to deteriorating a child’s formation of resilience. However, positive outcomes such as secure parental attachment, good physical health, education, supportive community structures, adequate food, shelter, and hygiene all work to combat the impact of negative life outcomes. Sometimes the balance between negative and positive outcomes can be offset with conscious social support such as affordable mental and physical health services, government housing and food support as well as a community that makes an effort to uplift its most vulnerable. Through doing this, children who are the most vulnerable to the negative outcomes of their circumstances can be given a chance to build a life equipped with self-efficacy and psychological resilience.

Another aspect of resiliency is the importance of letting children fail and make mistakes, for the purpose of learning that sadness and disappointment are normal and do not last forever. It also teaches children that it is ok to try your best at a skill or endeavor and learn that it is not where their strengths lie. Letting your child pursue things they are curious about such as learning to draw or playing a sport can be incredibly beneficial to their development, even if it is something that they do not ultimately commit to. Encouraging a hopeful perspective that teaches an experience can always be learned from mentality is essential in the resilient child. The concept of falling down and getting back up cannot happen if they do initially do something that holds the risk of falling.

Additionally, it is equally important for children to have a secure attachment to a parent or guardian in their life that they know they can rely on in times of need or uncertainty. A strong adult-child relationship creates an emotional anchor that propels the child farther in life than a child who has a neglected relationship with a parent. A child knowing they can make mistakes safely can be a significant source of encouragement, and can make all the difference in raising their level of resiliency.

As a parent, it can be difficult to know when the right time to step in or stand by is with tasks that require independence in learning, but below are five strategies to foster resilience in your child, whether it be at home, school or beyond.


Allowing and even encouraging hobbies or activities that require personal dedication to skill building and letting your child take the reins, is one of the most effective ways to build self-confidence in the face of challenges. If you let your child choose to lean into something they are truly passionate about they have the potential to grow as well as fail, and both of these lessons are equally valuable. Learning that failure and mistakes do not equal a lack of intrinsic capability is an important milestone to reach.


The phrase it takes a village encapsulates the idea of community support perfectly. However, it is not only direct familial involvement that matters, but the support children receive from their teachers, counselors, coaches and their friend groups. Checking in with your child to make sure they are feeling supported in all areas, not just the home, can be a great way to determine if all their needs are being met.


As mentioned before, some children have a biological inclination to high emotional sensitivity. These children may be more perceptive and thus more prone to nervousness or worry. Creating a space where your child feels comfortable to freely express their emotions free of judgment or criticism can be the biggest tool in and of itself. Further, guiding your child in understanding the positives and negatives of their life path can range from a meaningful discussion to lending a helping hand to someone in need. This can put into perspective that negative life circumstances do not always result in a poor quality of life, and that life is complex but a sense of hope is the antidote to despair.


Helping your child to learn adaptability in the face of distress or transitions is essential when cultivating a strong sense of grit and resilience. While all the above strategies are productive, embodying these ideals and concepts will have a profound impact on your children. Parents are a child’s first role models and when a child is able to see a parent be upset about something and still be able to recover it can ingrain the concept of resilience in a direct manner.


The last strategy for creating a resilient child is teaching them self-love and self-care. Checking in often with your child to gauge their self-perception of their capabilities as well as sense of self is crucial. Examining where your child’s ideals and confidence levels lie can also aid in knowing if they are being bullied or put down by another adult in their life. Conversations surrounding confidence and self-love allows for direct intervention if emotional distress like this is occurring, but can also be proactive in building a space for your child to learn they have the autonomy to self-soothe and self-care.

(This article was contributed by Rollins Clinical Psychology student, Shannon Caicedo)

1. https://childmind.org/article/raising-resilient-kids-who-are-prepared-for-the-future/
2. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/
3. https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience/guide-parents-teachers
4. https://youtu.be/1r8hj72bfGo?si=LJtNlo9t0lZC4IOb


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