Keep at It: Teaching Resilience in a Child Care Setting

Teach the children in your care about the power of perseverance

As a quality childcare provider, one of your professional goals is to give the children in your care the tools they need to succeed in life. Academic skills are one thing – their colors, letters, numbers, and shapes – but other skills are just as important and can be slightly more difficult to teach. Good manners, kindness, self-control, emotional regulation, and resilience are all essential components of a life well-lived but can be harder to define when creating a lesson plan.

When it comes to building a foundation that supports personal and academic success while building self-confidence, resilience is a crucial element. Just like the Little Engine That Could, the willingness to try, try again leads a child to feel capable of achievements big and small.

You can teach skills such as resilience that will help children make a life of security and contentment possible for themselves.

Create a classroom culture of resilience to instill this powerful personal trait in the children in your care.

Encourage independence

The greatest successes are experienced after a series of small setbacks. Let the children try, and let them fail in safe ways that they can eventually overcome. Whether it’s asking them to put on their own coats or to lead a group activity, allow children the opportunity to try in a supported way until they succeed.

Ask questions

The ability to make decisions and offer opinions is an important part of making choices that help establish an independent identity. Decision-making helps children develop trust in themselves. Ask them what center they’d like to play at, who they would like to play with, or what color they would like to paint their art project, and respond enthusiastically about their choices.

Asking questions about how a story might end if a dinosaur is a plant-eater or meat-eater, or how a character feels also helps support critical thinking.

Practice patience

Young children need help to learn how to self-regulate their behavior and to practice waiting for their turn. Working in a group, or living in a community involves cooperating with others, and that’s a good skill to start practicing when young.

Encourage activities that require waiting for your turns, such as simple board games or playing ball. Help children understand the concept of time by providing a benchmark they can identify with by saying something like “Music time comes after lunch, and you can play the xylophone then.”

Provide support

Help children develop confidence and leadership abilities by assigning them roles, such as being the snack helper, story chooser, or line leader. Small responsibilities help children practice new roles that can foster self-esteem and nurture a positive view of their social positions. Also, show children how much you value their contributions to the group by praising their efforts, especially when they’ve shown perseverance. Talk about how important the concept of resilience is by using simple words and examples they’ll understand from a personal perspective.

The world is an unpredictable place, and you can’t prepare the children in your care for everything they will encounter in their lifetimes. However, you can give them the personal skills to overcome obstacles through continued effort and resilience, which will help them navigate life’s ups and downs independently.

The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.

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