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Raising Resilient Children

Dr. B. Jill McCabe and Erin Rovelli, RN serve patients at the Children’s Emergency Room at Inova Loudoun Hospital – Loudoun County’s only emergency facility solely dedicated to caring for children and adolescents. It is also the first and only sensory-friendly ER in the region. 

As parents, it is not possible to protect our children from every bump, hill, twist, and turn that life will bring. It is important for children to learn resiliency at an early age. This will allow them to effectively cope, identify and express their emotions, gain inner strength, recover from hardships, and be prepared for future challenges.

Children need to know that there is an adult in their life who believes in them and loves them unconditionally. Here are a few ways you can help your child to become more resilient:

Develop competence

  • Help children focus on individual strengths
  • Empower children to make decisions
  • Do not let your desire to protect your child suggest that you don’t think he or she can handle things on their own

Develop confidence

  • Focus on the best in your child
  • Clearly express the best qualities, like fairness, integrity, kindness, and perseverance
  • Recognize when he or she has done well
  • Offer honest praising about specific achievements
  • Do not push your child to take on more than he or she can realistically handle

Develop a connection with family and the community

  • Build a sense of physical safety and emotional security within your home
  • Allow for the expression of all emotions so that children will feel comfortable reaching out during difficult times
  • Address conflict openly in the family to resolve problems
  • Foster healthy relationships that will reinforce positive messages

Develop strong character

  • Demonstrate how behaviors affect others
  • Help your child recognize him or herself as a caring person
  • Demonstrate the importance of community
  • Encourage the development of spirituality
  • Set a good example

Emphasize the importance of personal contribution

  • Communicate to children that many people in the world do not have what they need
  • Stress the importance of serving others by modeling generosity
  • Create opportunities for your child to contribute in some specific way

Develop coping skills

  • Model positive coping strategies on a consistent basis
  • Guide your child to develop positive and effective coping strategies
  • Realize that telling your child to stop negative behavior will not be effective
  • Understand that many risky behaviors are attempts to alleviate stress and pain
  • Do not condemn your child for negative behavior – this can result in a potential heightened sense of shame

Develop ways to control outcomes of decisions

  • Help your child understand that life’s events are not random and that most things that happen are the direct result of another individual’s choices and actions
  • Learn that discipline is about teaching – not punishing or controlling; use discipline to help your child understand that his or her actions produce certain consequences


Parenting in Northern Virginia: Additional resources


  1. Dr. David Miles on September 25, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Developing and Educating Resiliency includes ALL of the above, but you are missing the “knowledge” or educating for understanding. Resiliency development is a blance between understanding the intellectual “why” things happen and the outcomes and impact are may be under our (or parents) ability to influence or control. You are not born with resiliency, you learn how to maximize the psoitives and minimize the negatives. Dr. David Miles

  2. Nelida on October 13, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Gracias por publicar este tema, sera de mucho apoyo para mis familiares y amigos, asi como mi comunidad.

  3. Nelida on November 5, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Jamas la vida me habia puesto a prueba de estas enseñanza tan valiosas y necesarias que injustamente me trasmitieronmis padres y que nos estan ayudando a toda la familia ahora que han partdo a la Gloria de Dios.

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