THINK Primary #6 | Resilience

What is Resilience?

We hear a lot about resilience these days, particularly connected to mental health and well-being.

One dictionary defines resilience as:

“The ability to be happy and successful again after something difficult or bad has happened

Others describe resilience as being

The ability to bounce back”

At Hastings, we identified resilience as one of 8 learner habits. In terms of learning, we see resilience as actually learning from the setback and possibly using it to propel further forward, so not just bouncing back to where you were.

We believe that resilience is a habit, which can be developed. We want to help our children develop their resilience, setting them on a path for what we hope will be a more enjoyable, fulfilling and ultimately successful learning journey.


What can we do to develop children’s resilience?


  1. Help children understand their emotions

Resilience is inextricably connected to emotional development. We need children to be able to identify, understand and express different feelings.

  • Talk about how that sense of disappointment or frustration can be overcome by determination to try again.
  • Discuss different responses and strategies for dealing with negative emotions.
  • Talk about the science of how the brain works. Our emotions are part of that science.



  1. Allow children to make mistakes

When things go wrong, we should refrain from trying to protect children. We need to help children see that they can learn from their mistakes. We are not helping children if we are always demanding perfection.

  • Children need to see that mistakes are a valuable part of life.
  • We should talk about them openly and not view them in a negative way.


  1. Model own fallibility

It’s important to share our own mistakes with children. They provide us with valuable opportunities to model how we learn, grow and move forward. We don’t want children to think that adults are always right. Let children see how we cope when things go wrong. We need to think about what we are modelling for our children.


  1. Don’t always have the answers

Similarly, when children ask us for help or ask us questions, it’s important they see that sometimes we don’t have answers or are not sure.

  • Turn questions back to them to help children find the solution on their own.


  1. Talk about resilience and reflect on it

Help children remember back to a time when they were resilient and help them draw links with current situations.

  • Discuss how they responded, what was said and how they felt.
  • Help children build a bank of these memories to dip into each time.


  1. Give children autonomy over some areas of their life

If children are going to learn from mistakes, they need to be given the opportunity to make them in the first place. Children need to be given age appropriate autonomy; responsibilities around the house and opportunities to think and act independently.


  1. Go steady on praise

If we praise children for everything they do, they soon turn into ‘praise-junkies’. Getting things right in our eyes becomes their sole motivation and making mistakes will affect them hugely. Praising children for their resilience and helping children recognise what they did to overcome adversity is far more beneficial than any kind of praise acknowledging doing something right.