How to Build Resilience in Kids — It’s Easier Than You Think
Written by Deborah Brooks, Co-Founder of My Puffin Inc.
I often hear the word resilience as an essential skill that every child needs. So how do we give our kids resilience to survive in this world? I have a few solid recommendations that are easy to implement — dare I say fun.
But first, what really is resilience and why do kids need it?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stressful situations, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. Resilience is not something that kids either have or don't have; it's a skill that kids develop as they grow. As parents, I believe we need to do all that we can to help build resilience in a safe and constructive way. One of the best (and easiest) ways to do this is to encourage kids to have imaginative play in their daily life.
Does imaginative play really build resilience?
Yes, it does! In fact, imaginative play provides many positive benefits including building social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. Resilience is part of the emotional skills set. It’s the combination of these four skills that are critical to the holistic development of a child.
But how does imaginative play build resilience?
Pretend play or imaginative play is well documented to provide an outlet for children to work out their fears and stresses. Play increases learning and improves brain plasticity. In essence, allowing time for unstructured play has multiple benefits and as a bonus, it's easy to do. No planning — just play. Play allows the mind to solve problems encountered when superheroes are fighting off a villain, pirates are navigating a stormy sea, astronauts encounter trouble on a rocket ship, or princesses fight off a dragon.
As a mom of 3, I did make sure my kids had “free play” time every day. They created worlds and situations that allowed their imaginations to expand. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Truth is it was. And it gave me a break at the same time. Win-win.
What you can do today to enhance the development of your child:
- Let your child play on their own (with or without other children).
- Take away electronics for given periods of time.
- Provide an environment that fosters imaginative and open-ended play. For example, use a play couch as the starting point for an imaginative game.
- Start the imaginative games with your kids. Some kids will need guidance on how to make-believe.
- Ask your child open-ended questions to start an imaginative game. Where do you want to go? Who is with you? What is the problem you are trying to solve? What animals are with us?
Most importantly, have fun and be patient as your child develops the imaginative muscle. It can take time if they are not accustomed to imaginative games.
Deborah Brooks is the Co-founder of My Puffin Inc. My Puffin Play Couch (one of Kids & Company's newest partners!) is the perfect place for your child to expand their imagination in active play. Visit their website to see their collection of play couches. Kids & Company families can access a 10% discount by using the promo code in the weekly newsletter or asking their Centre Director for details!