Promoting Resilience in Young Children


Tragic events that affect children often spark discussions on topics such as gun control, mental illness and how politicians, educators and mental health professionals can help children cope when put in tough situations.

Negative experiences can result in emotional pain, mistrust in others, and feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem or lack of motivation. Because of this, educators and mental health professionals agree that we need to focus on promoting resilience in young children. Resilience is the ability to adapt well to negative or challenging experiences in life, such as trauma, adversity, disaster, or any stressful event. Children can learn resilience skills to help them cope with these negative experiences.

There are three factors that should be considered in promoting resilience in young children. Children need to build healthy attachments or relationships with others in their lives over time and through nurturing interactions. Educators can do the following to build attachments or relationships:

  • provide lots of family time through games, reading or other family fun activities
  • include parents in the child care program’s decision-making
  • include positive interactions during play and routine activities

Children need to take initiative to meet their own needs through their thoughts and actions. Educators can promote children’s initiative by:

  • providing  an inviting learning environment with ample toys and  materials to promote purposeful  play
  • teaching children self-help skills with appropriate, child size materials

Self regulation is also an important skill children need to develop in order to express emotions and manage their own behaviors in appropriate ways. Promoting children’s self regulation includes:

  • setting age appropriate and consistent limits for children
  • providing opportunities for children to develop pro-social skills

Children who develop appropriate coping skills to deal with stressful events grow up into adults who are well adjusted, productive citizens in our society.

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Lauren Pierre, MS, is an Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator at Rasmussen College’s School of Education. She heads the Early Childhood Education Associate degree program on the New Port Richey, Fla. campus. Lauren has been in the field of early childhood education for over 20 years. Her work experience includes teaching at elementary school level, training early childhood program directors and caregivers, providing accreditation consulting, teaching the national Child Development Associate courses and FL state administrator credential course. Lauren received her BA in Psychology from City College of the City University of New York and her MS in Early Childhood Education Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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