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What is resilience?

Resilience refers to the strengths, skills and resources we have to manage and overcome challenges and difficulties that we meet. It is about doing well or having a good outcome when times have been tough. It involves our own skills, strengths and qualities but also the relationships, support and opportunities we have around us.

Research shows us that resilience:

  • Is made up of different things and is not one particular skill we are born with.
  • Can change and fluctuate – it’s not fixed and it’s not something we either have or don’t have.
  • Develops from going through tricky times, as well as having good things in place to protect it.
  • Is not an extraordinary power – the smallest, everyday things can make a difference.

Research* shows us we can promote resilience by thinking about support in key areas...


I need opportunities to succeed, to reach my goals and feel inspired!

  • Break things down into small, manageable steps
  • Show me what progress I have made frequently
  • Find out what I am good at and give me opportunities to shine
  • Give me choices and let me do things for myself
  • Give me specific, positive praise when I do things well


I need to feel loved, cared for and encouraged. I need to have fun with others and make friends. Have fun together!

  • Tell me what you like about me often
  • Show me that you have me ‘in mind’ – remember things I have told you and ask me things about myself
  • Show an interest in what I’m interested in, even if you aren’t interested yet
  • Help me to have fun with other children
  • Value me for who I am


I need a sense of purpose, to do what matters to me and to follow my interests and strengths.

  • Find out what’s important to me
  • Notice when I have done something I have really enjoyed
  • Give me opportunities to find what I love doing
  • Help me to talk about what I enjoy to others
  • Give me little jobs to do if I enjoy doing things for others


I need to learn skills for problem-solving, understanding my feelings, calming down and getting on with others

  • Have an emotions board where all children can reflect on how they feel
  • Talk about your own feelings often
  • Comment on how you think we might be feeling
  • Teach me some calming strategies, like deep breathing or finding a quiet space
  • Teach me how to get on with others


Mrs Patey, our ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant), has put together a series of activities for you to work through with your child.  We hope they will encourage your child (and perhaps you too!) to look at situations differently, and to find ways to deal with situations when they don't go the way you hope they will.  

Week 1 

Talk to your child about resilience. Refer to the building resilience information above.

This week I thought it would be really good fun to play a game with your family.  Something nice and simple would be ideal.  Maybe you have a favourite board game, snap, memory game (the one with the tea towel and things hidden underneath), or you could get someone to hide your best toy and see how long it takes to find.

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles.  Corrie Ten Boom 

Look her up, she was very inspirational. Why don’t you copy it out, make it look gorgeous and stick it on your fridge.

Week 2 

Have a look through the Building Resilience information above and remind yourself of the basics.

Have a discussion about how you can tell how resilient a person is.

Phone a friend/ family member or write a postcard.  Tell them something fabulous you have achieved

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Unknown

Write it out in fancy pens and decorate.  Pop it on your fridge.

Week 3 

Have a quick refresher with the Building Resilience information.

Discussion for this week is…how might resilience affect your learning?

Build a junk sculpture to represent someone you miss.  It doesn’t need to be lifelike, just a feeling.  Have fun with it. 

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.  Albus Dumbledore

Week 4 

Have a little reminder of what resilience is from the information above.

This week’s challenge is to make a personalised flag.  What would you put on it?  What qualities do you have?  Put five things on your flag that are ‘you’. Have fun.

Blessed are the hearts that can bend, for they can never be broken. Albert Camus

See if you can find out a bit about Albert.

Week 5 

See what you can remember about resilience.  See if you can remember the basics.

This week I would like you to write a prediction of where you think you will be and what you will be doing in five, ten and 15 years.  I would also like your caregiver to do the same for you and then compare notes.  Maybe you have had some of the same ideas or completely different.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

Copy the quote in fancy pens and decorate.  Stick it on your fridge.

Week 6 

When something goes wrong we sometimes say things like ‘why does this always happen to me?’  When you do this you personalise it.  This is not helpful; it is better to normalise it.  Things are not out to get you - sometimes things just go wrong.

This week I would like you to draw around your foot.  Next to your foot I would like you to write down one goal.  The goal should focus on what you would like to achieve.  You move forward with your feet and this is how we achieve, by moving forward.  Is it a realistic goal? Why is it important to set goals? Is there any more goals you would like to achieve?  What can you do right now to accomplish your goal?

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. Maya Angelou

Copy and put it on the fridge :)

Week 7 

Congratulations, you are now a resilience expert!

You have learned to look at situations differently and how to deal with things when they do not go as planned.

For this final week I would like you to make yourself a certificate to celebrate your achievement.  You are awesome!

Last quote of the week so make it really special.

Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’  Unknown

They may have been unknown, but I think they were very wise. :)

*Based on research reviewed by Ann Masten (2016) and inspired by Henderson and Milstein (2003), Hart, Blincow and Thomas (2007) and Jeni Hooper (2012) Adapted by Cath Lowther and HIEP (2016-9)