How to build resilience in children

Updated: Sep 14

To be able to build resilience in children, we must first bring clarity on what resilience is and why it’s needed.  It’s a common belief that resilience is a type of mental toughness that people are innately born with, which allows them to recover after times of crisis.

However, at Life on Time we believe resilience is far more that one innate skill under the control of an individual. When looking to build resilience in children we believe it involves coaching a group of skills while significantly developing the support systems around them.  We believe all children should have access to learn these vitally important skills from an early age, so they can grow up into healthy, successful and fulfilled human beings. Many of the skills required to be resilient are covered within the life on time founding principles below and are skills covered on our platform Lifeontime TEENS for schools. 


  1. Goal setting

  2. Mind Body connection

  3. Attitude

  4. Confidence

No human goes through life without hardship, so resilience is a must have set of life skills for any child to learn. A study by Pettoello-Mantovani et al in 2019 showed this when they looked at Fostering resilience in children. They noted;

‘building resilience is a central element in the efforts to develop essential factors contributing to establishment and maintenance of health status. Pettoello-Mantovani et al in 2019

They also noted that the factors which are involved within resilience are the capability to build and maintain relationships, problem solve and successfully goal set.

When looking to build resilience in children we need to therefore look at building a set of skills such as goal setting, but also help to create a positive learning environment around them where they feel supported both physically and emotionally. As already set out in our previous article ‘Should PSHE be given more time after lockdown building resilience is now more vital than ever, as its likely many children will be suffering hardship and will need support to allow them to bounce back from the current pandemic.

So how can we build resilience in Children?

We spoke to Ian Rennie from PTCS a coaching and consultancy business which specialise in coaching resilience to leading government officials around the globe. As already noted resilience covers a broad range of skills, so Ian highlighted for us the key areas when looking to build resilience in children.

  1. Encourage a balanced Lifestyle

Ian notes that lifestyle can have a huge impact on your child’s resilience. The way we live our life can affect how resilient we are. Although children may rely on adults to make most of these decisions it’s good to get them involved and educate them on what constitutes a good lifestyle balance. Its completely normal to have moments where you may think you haven’t got the balance right, but with regular reflection, research and communication its possible to make the changes needed to positively impact your child and familys life.

Factors such as sleep, the time we allow ourselves for relaxation and exercise can all contribute to our overall resilience and ability to bounce back from knock backs. When looking to build resilience in children this could be making sure they have a good balance between, school work, play, relaxation and screen time. Please see our videos on mindfulness and sleep which offers tips for you to try.

Ian also noted how goal setting can help build resilience. If you know a child who is going through a hard time, focusing on a short-term goal can alleviate some of the emotional pain. Please see our article on goals setting for some more information.

  1. Promote positive physical health choices

Ian notes how our physical health can directly impact our elasticity to bounce back from a crisis. This can be down to the food and drink we put into our bodies, to the physical activity we do to create stronger muscles and healthier bodies.

When looking at physical health and how to build resilience in children, it’s important to make sure children are receiving good quality food in the right amounts and also doing the activities to help their physical health. The Life on Time software offers specific physical health advice and can be made bespoke to your schools needs.

  1. Give yourself a break & let them know mistakes are OK

Ian notes that to build resilience in children we need to aspire to perform well, but we also need to learn when to give ourselves a break and that making mistakes is ok. Teaching our children the skill of acceptance, so they can learn to accept that things aren’t always perfect and that its ok to ‘mess up’ is one of the key skills to overall emotional stability and resilience.

  1. Encourage openness It’s OK to ask for help

Ian’s final tip on how to build resilience in children is about teaching them to be open and to use their support network.  This could be in the form of their family and friends, or it could be speaking to a teacher or health professional.  To stay resilient, we need to teach our children that its ok to look for support and use the network they have around them.  For severely deprived children this could be in the form of children’s charities.

One key point to remind ourselves, is that it’s the parents response and acceptance that will determine whether a child will be open or not. If a child is shut down or receives a negative response from reaching out, then they are far less likely to show openness in the future.

It’s also important to note that children all learn from their role models.  If you are a parent or a teacher and never admit or open up that you are ‘not ok’ they will learn this same behaviour.  It’s therefore really important to demonstrate all the points Ian has noted within our own behaviour, if we want to build resilience in children.

For teachers and schools it may be very hard to have an impact on some of these factors as many are in the control of parents and carers, however our lifeontime application can help educate and build these skills both at school and at home.  For more details a demo can be booked here.

For more information also listen to our podcast on how to build resilience with Dr Bear, Jez, Jon and special guest Ian Rennie.  If you want to book some coaching for your team you can also contact Ian Rennie on the link below.

Who is Ian Rennie and PTCS?

Ian Rennie

Established in 2010 we work with a wide variety of clients, in the UK and internationally, delivering learning, consultancy and coaching services. And our ambition is peak performance, by us, for our clients, every time.

Ren is principal consultant at PTCS. As well as working for clients in the UK, Ren’s work has taken him to Abu Dhabi, Cayman Islands, Dubai, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, Iceland, Jamaica, Kosovo, Malaysia, Montserrat, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and Uganda. In his spare time he plants trees to compensate for his carbon footprint.

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