Nurturing Resilience

Nurturing Resilience

OSU School Readiness

By helping children build protective factors we empower them to thrive.

Fostering Child Resilience: Practical Strategies for Parents

Resilience is adapting to life’s challenges. Every child and adult is capable of resilience!

We nurture resilience in ourselves and one another in little ways each day.

We do this by building “protective factors” in 3 general areas:

Fostering resilience is an ongoing journey, with ups and downs. It takes love, patience, and consistency, but there is no one way to build resilience. Try the strategies that fit best for you and your family. By helping children build protective factors we empower them to thrive.

Also see our section on Navigating Life’s Challenges.

Individual skills

Help your child practice skills for self-regulation, social interactions, and academics. These are the internal “protective factors” they will carry with them throughout life.

Play games

Play games where children learn to follow rules and practice paying attention, like Simon Says, Freeze Dance, or Red Light Green Light. Try changing the rules for your child to practice self-control and memory.

Play with other children

Find ways for your child to play with other children their age, and/or to help take care of a sibling. This builds skills for social interaction.

Practice responsibility

Help your child practice responsibility by cooking, cleaning up, or taking care of a pet together. Just like exercise builds muscles, practicing responsibility builds skills and habits.

Practice trying new things

Encourage your child to try new things (like a harder puzzle or climbing on the playground). Offer support when it gets hard, like “You can do it!” or “Wow you are working so hard!”

Practice telling stories

Encourage your child to create and tell stories using puppets, toys, art, or role playing. These activities can improve empathy, communication, and language skills.

Classes or workshops

Sign up for a class or workshop for parents of young children to learn more strategies.

Supportive relationships

Nurture adult-child bonds. Supportive relationships are the heart of resilience

Set aside quality time to play

Set aside quality time to play with your child, letting them choose the activity (blocks, art, playground, make believe, etc.). Choose a time that works for your family – it could be an hour on Saturdays, or 15 minutes each night after dinner. Let your child direct the play, while you join in and follow along. These moments of deep connection build a strong bond that endures.

Listen actively

When your child feels upset or scared, listen actively, get down to their eye level, and use a soothing voice. Encourage them to express their feelings through talking, drawing, or showing you. This helps develop trust and security.

Daily routines

Choose daily routines to do together with your child, such as preparing lunch, eating dinner, bath time, reading or telling stories before bed. Consistent routines provide stability and strengthen your connection. Start with 1-2 routines and add more over time if you’d like.

Explore the world together

Explore the world together – whether that’s the world of music, stories, nature, or something else. Shared experiences can build relationships and broaden our awareness. 

Connections with community and culture

Connect your child with community and culture. This creates belonging and knowing where to go to get help when needed.

Places where you feel belonging

Visit places where you feel belonging and bring your child along. It can be as simple as a particular grocery store that feels like home, a friend’s apartment, or a gathering.

Community spaces

Connect with other families in community spaces like parks, libraries, churches, or festivals. Libraries check out books, games, movies and more. Find your local library.

Classes or support group

Join a class or support group for parents of young children. This not only equips you with new strategies but also connects you with other families in your community.

Celebrate traditions

Celebrate family and/or cultural traditions together with your child. Taking part in traditions can help children build a sense of identity and belonging.


Use your child’s native language in stories, songs, games, and/or books. Or, find someone like an elder, neighbor, or teacher who can use their native language with them.