Elizabeth Ogunshola

All kids encounter stress of varying degrees as they grow. Despite their best efforts, parents can’t protect kids from obstacles, stress and trauma sometimes. Children get sick, change schools, go to boarding school, encounter bullies and cyberbullies, take examinations, lose loved ones, deal with divorce and parental separation just to name a few. These obstacles might seem small in the eyes of an adult, but they feel large and all-consuming to children.

Generally, children are capable of going through challenges and coping with stress. That is one of the reasons resilience shouldn’t be a debate that children should either have or not; it should a skill that kids should develop as they grow. When children exhibit resilient assertiveness, they are more likely to take healthy risks because they don’t fear falling short of expectations.

Good parenting is as good as intentional parenting, and this intentional parenting attitude has a great effect or outcome on every child’s general disposition about life.

It is very important to help children build resilience; some of us didn’t learn this early in life. One beautiful way you can teach resilience is by using books since children are attracted to books and pictures. When kids read or hear stories of how others face challenges, they learn from seeing resilience in action.

To help you get started, I’ll share some favourites picture books about building resilience in children and teens, recommended by Understood Teacher Fellows.

Number 1: AFTER THE FALL, by Dan Santat

About the book: This picture book tells the story of how Humpty Dumpty faces his fear of heights after he falls off the wall.

What it teaches about resilience: This book encourages readers to work step by step to overcome fear.

What you can talk about with kids: After Humpty fell off the wall, why did he decide not to climb it again? What made him change his mind? Have you ever been afraid to try something? Why? How did you face your fear?

Number 2: I AM MALALA by MALALA YOUSAFZAI

About the book: In this memoir, Malala Yousafzai tells the story of her experience growing up in Pakistan. She writes about advocating for girls’ education and the dangers she faces in the cause of this. In 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17.

What it teaches about resilience: Malala’s story demonstrates the power of perseverance and grit. Young children and teenagers will see how Malala uses challenges in her life to fuel her desire to impact the world at large.

What you can talk about with kids: How did Malala persevere when faced with adversity? What has helped you persevere when faced with a challenge?

Number 3: FISH IN A TREE by LYNDA MULLALY HUNT

About the book: Sixth Grader Ally is bullied by her classmates and tries to hide that she has dyslexia. When her new teacher helps her see her strengths as a learner, her confidence improves in many ways.

What it teaches about resilience: Kids can learn that even though it may be challenging to see their differences as strengths, differences are what make them shine.

What you can talk about with kids: What ways did the teacher encourage Ally to see her strengths? In what ways do people in your life inspire and motivate you? If Ally was your friend, how might you support or advise her?

Number 4: WHISTLE FOR WILLIE by EZRA JACK KEATS

About the book: This classic picture book tells the story of a little boy who wants to be able to whistle for his dog. He keeps trying — at times getting frustrated — but he eventually learns to whistle.

What it teaches about resilience: The story inspires kids to not give up, even when things get hard.

What you can talk about with kids: What did the boy do when he couldn’t whistle? Have you ever had a frustrating experience like Willie? What kinds of things help you keep trying?

NUMBER 5: TRYING by KOBI YAMADA

About the book: In this picture book, a young man wants to try sculpting but is afraid to fail. An older sculptor shares his own failures — and how much he loves them. This inspires the young man to keep trying.

What it teaches about resilience: Kids can see that it’s okay for things not to be perfect. Failure is not failure when you learn from it.

What you can talk about with kids: What is something you tried to do but failed? Did you keep trying or give up? What can we do to help each other keep trying?

NUMBER 6: LUBNA AND PEBBLE by WENDY MEDDOUR

About the book: In this picture book, a little girl named Lubna lives in a refugee camp with her father. While they wait for their chance to move to a new home, Lubna finds comfort in a pebble. She gives it to a boy to help him feel less alone.

What it teaches about resilience: This book celebrates the power of care and resilience during difficult circumstances.

What you can talk about with kids: How did the pebble help Lubna feel safe? Why did Lubna give away the pebble even though she loved it so much? What helps you when you’re scared or worried?

Other strategies to help build resilience in children are;

a. model resilience

b. teach problem-solving skills

c. promote healthy risk taking

d. build s strong emotion connection

I do hope you find these information helpful.

Dr Elizabeth Ogunshola

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