Building Resilience in Children and Adolescents

Building Resilience in Children and Adolescents

In the wake of the post-COVID world, where the landscape of education has undergone unprecedented changes, the well-being of our students needs to take center stage. As teachers navigate these challenges, the importance of instilling resilience in the hearts and minds of our children has never been more pressing.

We are delighted to present a thought-provoking article on this subject, written by Briana LaRosa, an experienced educator and expert in the field. Acknowledging the unique impact teachers are feeling in this evolving educational landscape, we sought Briana’s expertise to shed light on strategies that go beyond academic achievement to address the emotional and mental well-being of our students.

Briana, who teaches in Lake County, brings a wealth of insight into the stressors faced by today’s youth and the profound influence teachers have in shaping their ability to navigate life’s uncertainties. In a world where the amount of time our kids spend in the classroom is significant, the strategies outlined in this article aim to create not just an educational environment but a nurturing space for resilience to flourish.

Join us as we explore the innovative approaches employed by Briana and educators like her, recognizing the collective effort to empower the next generation to thrive, building resilience that extends far beyond the classroom walls.

Building Resilience in Children and Adolescents: A Teacher’s Strategies to Help Students Develop Resilience and Cope with Challenges.

Written by Briana LaRosa

Understanding Resilience

Resilience is an essential life skill that empowers individuals to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of life. As an educator, I witness first-hand the array of stressors children face daily and their ability, or lack thereof, to cope with them. In today’s fast-paced society, instilling resilience at a young age is more crucial than ever. Emphasizing this skill can benefit young people in many ways, such as improving mental health, problem-solving skills, and increasing self-confidence. Teachers play a vital role in fostering resilience in their students, equipping them with the tools they need to thrive in the face of adversity. In this article, we will explore strategies that educators like myself use to help children build resilience and cope with life’s challenges.

Challenges Faced by Today’s Youth

Before diving into strategies, it is important to understand some potential contributing factors to the diminished resiliency we see in young children today. Adolescents today encounter a wide range of challenges from various sources. These challenges can have a significant impact on their mental health, impairing their ability to manage adversity. It’s essential to recognize these stressors to understand why building resilience is so important for young people. Some possible factors include the following:

  1. Academic Pressure: Increased standardized exams, homework, and extracurricular activities can create immense pressure on students, leading to anxiety and burnout. 
  2. Social Media: The pervasive influence of social media can contribute to feelings of inadequacy, cyberbullying, and comparison, negatively affecting mental health.
  3. Peer Pressure: Adolescents often face peer pressure to conform to certain behaviors or expectations, which can lead to stress and anxiety.
  4. Family Issues: Family conflicts, divorce, or loss can disrupt a child’s sense of stability, negatively impacting their emotional well-being.
  5. Trauma: Some children may experience traumatic events, such as abuse, which can have long-lasting effects on their mental health.

Educator-Based Resilience Strategies

Now, let’s explore strategies that teachers implement to help students develop resilience and cope with these challenges.

1. Fostering a Supportive Environment

When children feel accepted and valued, they are more susceptible to growth, both academic and personal. Creating a safe space for students opens the door for them to be able to receive the education and tools being provided. Establishing an encouraging classroom can look like the following:

  • Building positive relationships with students based on trust and respect.
  • Encouraging open communication and active listening.
  • Fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity, where every student feels like they are part of a community.

2. Setting Realistic Expectations and Goals

Setting children up for success rather than failure allows them to experience the sense of accomplishment they need to boost their ability to adapt. For children to be successful, they must be presented with attainable goals. Unrealistic expectations can lead to undue stress and a sense of self-doubt. Teachers can help by:

  • Emphasizing the importance of effort and persistence rather than focusing solely on outcomes.
  • Breaking down large goals into smaller, achievable steps, allowing students to experience success along the way.
  • Celebrating small achievements to boost students’ confidence and motivation.

3. Teaching Problem-Solving and Coping Skills

Resiliency stems from the ability to problem-solve and practice coping skills. Like anything else we want a child to do, we must first model and instruct them how to do so. If we want children to be able to bounce back from adversity, we must teach them to tackle problems. We can empower students by:

  • Introducing problem-solving techniques and encouraging students to approach challenges methodically rather than reacting on emotion and seeking outside assistance.
  • Teaching emotional regulation skills to help students manage heightened emotions such as stress and anxiety.
  • Promoting a growth mindset, where students understand that setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning, rather than a reason to quit.

4. Incorporating Social/Emotional Learning

In today’s world, an educator’s role extends far beyond the confines of the traditional academic curriculum of arithmetic and language. To best support our young students, we have to incorporate teachings centered around social and emotional practices as well. These practices can look like:

  • Teaching empathy, self-awareness, and interpersonal skills.
  • Practicing recognizing and accepting our emotions rather than acting off of them or sweeping them under the rug.
  • Providing opportunities for peer support and group activities that foster emotional connection.

Building Resilience Beyond the Classroom

Resilience-building doesn’t end when the school day is over. There are many methods to continue promotion of these skills in a child’s life outside of the classroom:

Extracurricular Activities

When we encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities that interest them, we provide opportunities for skill development, teamwork, and personal growth. Learning how to overcome adversity in an activity such as their favorite sport is a skill that will be applicable in all walks of their life.

Family Involvement

Parents who do not reinforce the lessons and skills taught in the classroom put their child at a disadvantage to fully grasp the concepts. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Children who continue to practice coping skills and work towards goals in other areas, such as in their home life, will potentially master these strategies quicker than children who do not.

Community Resources

Not all children have the familial support that many of us are fortunate enough to have. In these instances, community resources and organizations can provide additional support. This could include local mental health services, support groups, or recreational activities.

What Success Looks Like

When assessing the effectiveness of these strategies, it’s important to keep in mind that resilience is an ever-evolving skill. Even as adults, we encounter moments and challenges where our resilience may fall short of our expectations, or it may vary in different situations. This underscores the importance of observing a child’s resilience over time to measure their progress. Some situations may find a child thriving in the face of adversity and adapting swiftly, while in different scenarios, they might struggle to maintain a positive outlook or adjust their course. It’s essential to recognize that each child possesses unique skills and triggers. Identifying specific circumstances in which a child can improve and focusing on honing particular coping skills tailored to those situations will facilitate continuous growth.

Success will look different for every child. It could manifest as a fourth-grade student completing their homework assignment for the first time without an emotional meltdown over concepts that are beyond their understanding. Newly developed resilience could present itself as the sixteen-year-old theater student who overcame self-doubt and auditioned for the role of their dreams, despite facing numerous prior rejections. As with most emotional matters, it is circumstantial and individualized. Small wins should be recognized and celebrated to serve as motivation to continue growing, in both children and adults.


By creating supportive environments, teaching essential skills, and recognizing individual needs, we can equip children to face life’s challenges with confidence and resilience. The result is a generation of young people who are better prepared to navigate the complexities of the modern world while maintaining their mental well-being. Building resilience isn’t just about surviving; it’s about thriving in the face of adversity, and that is only made possible by influential adults such as teachers and parents providing the necessary skill sets to achieve this.

You can read more of Briana’s writing on her blog Home – Tiny Writer (

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