Children & Young People's Emotional Health

Building Resilience

Resilience is a word we use to describe people being able to manage when things change or become more challenging.

It is never too late to become more resilient - skills that will help your child can help you too.

Resilient people can keep going even when times are hard, and have confidence that they can cope. When people are resilient, disappointments and sadness will still happen, but the person’s inner strength and determination carries them through. Life is easier if we are resilient people.

Healthy habits where your child learns to care for themselves, physically and emotionally, give a strong foundation for resilience to grow. Resilience will help children to cope with the many experiences and challenges that life brings.

You can listen to the podcast below about building resilience.

Dive Deeper

Understanding Feelings

Understanding that all feelings are ‘normal’ and healthy, even the more difficult ones like anger and sadness, is important. It is how you show your feelings that counts.

Knowing how to cope with ‘big feelings’ is an important skill. We need to be able to manage our thoughts and feelings when times are hard.

When your child is angry encourage them to tell people ‘I’m angry about that’ but then help them find ‘good ways’ to manage the feeling. Try:

  • Counting to ten
  • Taking time out
  • Breathing slowly. 

Read more about healthy ways to manage anger

When your child is sad:

  • Give them time to talk about it
  • Encourage them to cry if they want
  • Help them think what might make them feel better - a cuddle, seeing friends, taking exercise?

When your child is happy or proud enjoy the moment with them. Talk about what has happened. Thinking through things that have gone well can help children see their part in it, and build confidence.

Be a good example! Talk about your own feelings, and manage your reactions in a healthy way. Seek help if you know this is something you find hard. Have a look at the Norfolk Wellbeing Service for more information. 

Build Healthy Habits

It is great when a child learns to look after their physical and emotional health whilst they are young. Children benefit from having good habits in place – self care becomes a natural part of every day life. This will help your child as they grow and develop. Help your child build routines and habits that include:

Eating well and taking regular exercise

  • Releases ‘feel good’ hormones.
  • Helps reduce stress.
  • Keeps us physically strong.

Thinking positively 

  • Practice focusing on things that are going well in life and what they like about themselves.

Hobbies and activities

  • Improves self-esteem.
  • Can give healthy distractions when we have worries and difficulties.

Time with friends and family

  • Helps build strong bonds with loved ones.
  • We all need people to talk to, and have fun times with.
  • Builds support networks we can rely on.

Having the chance to challenge themselves and achieve results

  • It could be running faster, reading a harder book, even talking to a new person at school.

Ways to relax their bodies and minds

  • Mindfulness (tuning in to what is going on inside and outside of our minds and bodies).

Coping With Hard Times

It can feel difficult to see your child go through a tough time. It can be an instinct to fix it for them because you don’t like to see them sad or worried. One of the ways that we become resilient adults is by learning that we can cope when things don’t go as we hoped.

If you always protect your child from disappointment and difficulty, they miss out on learning their strengths and ways to overcome hard times. This may make them feel out of control and helpless when they face challenges.

Not fixing a problem does not mean your child needs to cope alone. Work together to make things better.

  • Make sure your child knows it is healthy to ask for help, and tell people when you are struggling.
  • Get your child to think who they can talk to when they have a problem – it may be you, other family members, friends or teachers.
  • Build talking time into your family life. Mealtimes, walks and cooking are all opportunities for a chat. Turn off screens and focus on each other.
  • When your child tells you a worry or a problem, don’t feel you have to have an answer or be able to fix it. Being listened to is so important for your child.
  • Be aware of your own feelings. If you feel angry on your child’s behalf you may need to calm yourself down first of all.

If your child tells you their problem, help them think it through and plan next steps:

  • What is happening?
  • When did it begin?
  • How is it making them feel?
  • Have they tried anything to help?
  • What has helped them in hard times before?
  • Remind them of ways you have seen them manage difficulties before
  • Can they think what they might do next?
  • What support would they like from you?
  • Who else can help?

It is by learning from good and bad experiences that you can help your child build the resilience that will help them throughout life.

Parent Workshop

The Psychology in Schools Team delivered a parent workshop which looked at how you can support your child or young person to build resilience. You can watch the recording of the workshop below.

Resilience Backpack

This activity helps your child to think about positive things that will help and support them when going through periods of change.


Life can be extremely difficult sometimes and it’s perfectly normal to experience anger, grief and pain., but the more resilient you are as a family the easier it will be to keep functioning both physically and mentally during difficult times. 

In this video Tanni Grey-Thompson shares some advice from NHS mental health professionals on how to come together as a family when a child has a mental illness.

Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support. 

Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.

Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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