Building Resilience within Preschoolers


“Get up, brush off, and run on,” a teacher says to a preschooler who falls on the playground as she helps him brush the leaves off his knees. This may be an example that comes to mind when we think of a preschooler’s resilience. What helps them bounce back after something bad happens? From a fall on the playground, they might have a scraped knee where we can see they are physically hurt. How can we help preschoolers to build resilience when they experience emotional trauma or stress?

Resilience is the preschooler’s ability to recover or rebound after stress. The definition reminds us of a piece of elastic. The elastic is resilient if it can regain its original shape after being stretched out. As we think of helping preschoolers build resilience, we think of being able to help them to recover after something stressful happens. In each quarter throughout this year, we will focus on helping preschoolers build resilience, develop trust, and acquire problem-solving skills.

Though preschoolers are rarely diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, many preschoolers go through traumatic events in their lives. We immediately think of events such as a natural disaster that damages their home. Other traumatic events that happen in preschoolers’ lives include divorce of their parents, moving, death of a family member (such as a parent, sibling, or grandparent), or a prolonged sickness. Even the birth or adoption of a new sibling is a life-changing event for a preschooler.

Building resilience does not happen immediately, and begins developing long before a major trauma happens. Resilience starts within preschoolers as they begin developing trust in others and a sense of security. As Christians, we can help preschoolers know that they can trust in God who is always with us. We can help them understand Bible thoughts such as those used in Sometimes I Am Afraid to help them know that God is always near to us. We can also help preschoolers know they can always go to God in prayer. Always Remember to Pray is an excellent book to help preschoolers know they can go to God in prayer in any situation. As preschoolers begin understanding the comfort and strength we are given through the Bible and prayer, we are helping them to build resilience within themselves.

Guide preschoolers in building resilience throughout their day-to-day struggles such as a scraped knee, a broken toy, or a spill at the table. Giving them the tools to cope with these smaller issues will help to equip them to have resilience to rebound after larger, more traumatic experiences in their lives. Be mindful of the ways you help preschoolers to have resilience as they learn of God’s care for them.

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