Megan Mackura, LPCC, MFT, CTP Performance Improvement Director

Editor’s note: Each month, the mental health experts at Ravenwood Heath blog about an aspect of how mental health affects other facets of our lives. This month, Megan Mackura discusses a topic pertinent to Child Abuse Prevention Month: How to help children build resiliency when they face adverse or difficult situations. 

The month of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse, and promotes the emotional and social well-being of children and their families. This month we focus on ways that as providers, family members, friends, and members of a community, we can promote resiliency in children and teens.

Resiliency, simply defined, is our ability to ‘bounce back’ after a difficult experience. Resiliency is a protective factor that is strongly associated with child abuse prevention. Protective Factors are attributes of families and communities that mitigate risk and promote healthy development and well-being. While we can’t always prevent children and teens from experiencing challenges, from everyday disappointments to traumatic experiences, we can work to increase the amount of protective factors that a child has, and to build resiliency skills, to support their ability to ‘bounce back’ following a difficult experience.

How to Build Resiliency Skills in Children and Teens

Build A Strong Emotional Connection. The foundation of everything is the relationship. Children and teens develop coping skills within the context of quality relationships, so making one-on-one time a priority is key.

Build Confidence. Point out what a child or teen does well. Confidence helps us feel like even in the face of adversity, we will be okay.

Embrace Mistakes. We all make mistakes, and it is important that children and teens know that mistakes are okay, and not something to be avoided. Tough times are often when we learn the most, and working through a mistake is an opportunity to practice resiliency skills.

Model Resiliency. The best way to teach the skill you want to see is to model it. As adults, we face challenges every day, and the children and teens in our lives are watching – the way that we respond in the face of difficulty, is an opportunity to model the skills of resiliency we want to see. 

To help children embrace their strengths and develop the skills to bounce back after dealing with a challenge, read Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun with them.

For more information about National Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit the Child Welfare website.