Promoting Resilience in Children [Dr Sharne Rolfe, Psychologist] Australian Early Childhood Association, 2002

– in the face of adversity all children need comfort, understanding & opportunities to express their inevitable distress.

How to help children deal with stress:
– provide extra physical comforting
– re-assure with loving words
– encourage play that helps children express & release tension
– allow children opportunities to talk with trusted adults about their feelings in a safe & peaceful setting
– respect how each family member responds to stress & trauma, & work with parents to develop a better understanding of how they cope

It is important in times of high stress to achieve a re-balancing for children away from fear & towards feeling safe & protected.

Being responsive means being able to respond to children’s cues in appropriate ways & to be psychologically available to them:
– know children well-enough to be able to respond in ways that work for them
– allow sufficient time to be available as long as needed, even if it means giving undivided attention to that child for an extended period of time
– be patient, gentle, calm, reassuring & clear – even in the face of strong distress, frustration, or anger in the child
– be prepared to try different strategies & responses if initial responses to the child do not work

Being warm – respond to the child with honesty & positive affect – it means feeding back to the child a genuine sense of enjoying the interaction:
– create an environment where it is both accepted & expected that adults & children will have warm & appropriately intimate interactions & relationships
– allow children to sustain physical closeness for as long as they need
– physicality to nurture comfort & trust
– avoid mechanistic, distracted or rushed behaviour when interacting with children

Being consistent – interact with the child consistently
– interact with a positive & relaxed state of mind
– coping skills
– provide children with age-appropriate limits & boundaries that are applied fairly, calmly & predictably

In order to promote resilience, adults who care for children must be – & must feel – sufficiently supported themselves.


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