Resilience Booster: Parent Tip Tool

There is a large body of research supporting the importance of building resilience to help prevent negative consequences of environmental stressors. Without resilience, children are at risk for poor outcomes in the following areas:





Delayed Language Learning

Self-Regulation of Emotion

Weakened Immune System


Language Learning Difficulties

Self-Regulation of Behavior

Changes in Brain Development

Peer Rejection

Memory Difficulties

Poor Impulse Control


Hostile Perceptions

Reduced ability to Focus/Concentrate

High Emotional Reactivity

Mental Health Problems

Volatile Relationships

School Readiness/Academic Failure

Chronic Health Issues

Developing Resilience

The home is your child’s first environment, and the one where she will spend the most time over the course of childhood. Your home is the most important environment for developing resilience. Key principles to support healthy development in the home include:


Children need to know what to expect and what is expected of them. This structure provides a sense of security and comfort. Structure helps to reduce the sense of chaos or disorganization that can be created by stress. To create structure:

Establish and stick to family routines

  • Meal times.
  • Bed times.
  • Homework times.
  • Hygiene routines.
  • Traditions, such as family game night, weekend walks or movie night.

Create rules and expectations and apply and enforce them consistently

One key to effective parenting and discipline is to let your child know what is expected of them, what to expect if they don’t do what they are supposed to, and then to follow through, every time. These rules and expectations help to create structure in children’s lives.

Create consistency wherever possible

It may not be possible or desirable to stay in the same home or neighborhood. But even when moves to new homes, day care, or schools are necessary, reduce the chaos of the change by maintaining routines and contact with friends, and managing expectations about what will happen in the change.

Foster a close, warm relationship

Warm relationships help children feel secure, especially when faced with ongoing daily stress. It is possible to maintain a warm, nurturing relationship and strong rules and expectations at the same time.

Talk about emotions. Children need to learn how to appropriately express and regulate emotions. They look to parents as models for all sorts of behaviors, including emotion regulation.

  • Express your feelings, including anger and sadness: “When accidents happen, I feel frustrated/sad/angry.”
  • Talk about the emotions expressed in the world around you. Discuss how characters in books or movies feel about what is happening, how siblings, relatives or classmates feel about events, or how it might feel to experience something new.
  • Talk to your child about her emotions, both positive and negative. Talking with children about their feelings helps them recognize those feelings and learn how to regulate them effectively.

Model and discuss self-control. The ability to regulate emotions and behavior is essential for succeeding in school, at work and in social relationships.

  • When talking about how you feel, also talk about what you will do to appropriately express or release those feelings.
  • Model the behavior you want to see in your child, including responses to anger.
  • Play games that support self-control, like musical chairs or red light/green light.

Model and discuss problem solving.

  • Share how you resolve problems, large and small, from what to make for dinner to how to make sure the bills are paid.
  • Play games that ask your child to come up with solutions.
  • When your child has a question or a problem, instead of offering suggestions immediately, start with questions, such as, “What do you think might work?” Help him think through his ideas before offering suggestions of your own, and discuss them too.

Build strong communication skills. Both understanding and using language are important for successful interactions. Communication skills, including a strong vocabulary and correct language use are strongly linked to academic success.

  • Make up family stories in which family members take turns adding something.
  • Talk to your child about your day, and ask about her day.
  • Read together, every day if possible, from birth. As your child begins to read, take turns reading to each other.
  • Sing and dance together.

Excerpted from “Resilience Booster: Parent Tip Tool” from the American Psychological Association.

See the guide on the APA website for more details on how to foster resilience at home.  The full guide includes: how to find resources in your neighborhood and community that support resilience, ensuring that your childcare will support your child’s developing resilience, and things you can look for in a teacher or school.

Source: American Psychological Association | Resilience Booster: Parent Tip Tool, | written in 2014. © 2023 American Psychological Association
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