The Importance of Nurturing Mental Resilience in Early Years:

Top Tips for Parents

As a parent, you play a primary role in nurturing your child's emotional wellbeing, laying the groundwork for a resilient mindset that will serve them well throughout life's ups and downs, be it a scraped knee, a lost toy, or a disagreement with a friend. As with adults, resilience in young children is the ability to cope with difficulties, navigate challenges, learn from setbacks, and emerge stronger. But just like physical strength, resilience needs to be nurtured from the very beginning, and the early years offer a foundational window of opportunity. In this article, we share some practical tips and advice on how you can cultivate mental and emotional resilience in your child.

Why is Resilience Important?
Think of resilience as a set of superpowers or a wellbeing toolkit for life. Children with strong resilience are better equipped to:

  • Manage emotions: They can understand and express their feelings in a healthy, measured way, avoiding frustration and big surges of emotion.
  • Deal with challenges: They can see setbacks as opportunities to be curious and to learn and grow, not reasons to give up.
  • Build positive relationships: They can communicate effectively and develop empathy, leading to stronger friendships and connections with those around them.
  • Thrive in academics: They can persevere through learning difficulties and stay motivated to achieve their goals.
  • Become well-rounded adults: They'll build the inner strength and optimism to navigate life's inevitable challenges.

10 Ways to Nurture Resilience in Your Child?

  1. Embrace positive reinforcement: Celebrate you child’s achievements, no matter how small. Offering praise and encouragement boosts their confidence and reinforces positive behaviours, helping to foster a resilient mindset.
  2. Encourage emotional awareness and expression: Help your child to identify and name their emotions ("It sounds like you're feeling frustrated"). Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for them to share their feelings, as well as healthy outlets like art, music, or physical activity.
  3. Play and explore: Let your child experiment, take risks, and learn from mistakes. There is so much to be learned through play, whether it's building towers or tackling a tricky puzzle. Let them discover their capabilities and celebrate their efforts, not just the outcome.
  4. Teach problem-solving: Provide opportunities for your child to tackle challenges and to solve problems independently. You can guide them through these challenges by breaking big problems into smaller steps. Encourage "brainstorming" solutions and let them choose, even if it doesn't work the first time. These experiences help build resilience by teaching valuable problem-solving skills.
  5. Foster positive self-talk and a growth mindset: Help your child develop a growth mindset by emphasising effort and progress over perfection. Encourage them to view challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles. You can teach them to use phrases like “I can learn from this mistake" and "I'm getting better all the time."
  6. Teach and model healthy coping mechanisms: Deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, and relaxation techniques can equip your child with tools to manage stress and anxiety that may surface when they’re facing challenges. For example, if they’re battling to figure out a puzzle, encourage them take a short break or a deep breath, then return to it once they’re feeling calm.
  7. Celebrate effort and perseverance: Recognise and celebrate your child’s resilience, not just their successes. Praise their determination to overcome challenges, highlighting their emotional strength and problem-solving skills.
  8. Model resilience: Children learn by example, so it’s important to demonstrate resilience in your own life. Model positive coping mechanisms, perseverance in the face of adversity, and a growth mindset. This shows them that everyone faces difficulties, and it's possible to bounce back and grow.
  9. Foster social connections: Encourage playing with friends, participating in games and challenges, and joining clubs. Positive social interactions help build confidence and teach children communication and collaboration skills.
  10. Stay connected with your nursery: Stay engaged with your child’s nursery and take advantage of resources and support available. You can collaborate with you child’s Key Person and nursery practitioners to reinforce resilience-building strategies both at home and in the nursery environment.

By nurturing your child’s mental resilience in the early years, you’re equipping them with the tools they need to thrive as they transition to big school and beyond. You’re giving them the best gift you can, which is the strength to face life’s challenges with courage, self-belief and optimism.


If you enjoyed this article and found it to be useful, you can check out more of our early childcare resources in our Family Resource Zone!

And, if you’re not yet a Bright Horizons parent, but are interested in what our nurseries can offer your child on their exciting educational journey, book a personal tour at your local nursery today! At Bright Horizons, our nurseries provide more than just childcare, they put the magic into childhood.