13 Ways to Build Resiliency and Prevent Bullying

mother and son doing homework together

While resiliency seems to come naturally to some kids, according to a study published in 2013, researchers have found that it also can be learned.

Equipping kids with emotional resilience helps them adapt to and overcome difficult situations. Resilient kids also tend to persevere through all types of challenges even when being bullied. 

Remember though, being resilient does not mean that your kids won't experience difficulty or distress. Hurt feelings, emotional pain, and sadness are common feelings when kids have been bullied. It is how they deal with those feelings that matter. When kids are resilient, they will cope with bullying much more effectively than those who are not resilient. Here are some ways to build resiliency in your children.

Make Kids Feel Accepted at Home

When kids consistently feel accepted for who they are, they are more able to cope with stress and adversity. No matter how different your kids are from you, they need to know that you believe in them and like who they are. Additionally, when kids feel accepted at home, the issues with bullying are less debilitating because of the acceptance they already feel.

Nurture a Healthy Self-Esteem

Teach your children to see value in what they have to offer the world. Also, help them see themselves in a positive light, especially during difficult times.

Ideally, you want them to be able to see that the challenges from bullying are not a reflection of who they are, but instead are a reflection of the choices made by bullies.

Encourage Positive Thinking

Help your kids find pleasure and humor in life. Do not let the distractions of everyday life taint their ability to slow down and laugh. Provide opportunities for kids to relax and have fun with no schedules and commitments to worry about. Also, help them see joy even in the little things and promote positive thinking.

Teach Feelings Management

Kids need to learn how to calm down when they feel like they are falling apart emotionally or when they are feeling aggressive and angry. Help kids learn to recognize and name their feelings and reactions. Give them ideas on how then to manage those feelings in positive ways. 

Promote Problem-Solving Skills

One way to instill problem-solving skills is to show kids how to be flexible in their responses to something negative. When your child faces a problem, brainstorm possible solutions. Together, talk about the pros and cons of each option. And, then allow your child to choose the best course of action. He needs to know that you trust his decisions so that he can learn to solve problems without fear of failure.

Focus on the Future

Part of ensuring our kids stay hopeful and overcome difficult situations is to orient them toward the future. Help your children see that there is a future beyond this current situation. One way to do this is to ask them to think about their goals and how they can begin accomplishing those now.

For instance, if their goal is to attend a particular camp over the summer, they can begin researching the camp or doing chores to save money to pay for it. Or, if their goal is to make a sports team in the fall, have them plan for how they can make that happen.

The key is to stop focusing on the negative. Positive thinking enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the most challenging situations.

Question Their Critical Inner Voice

When children have a critical inner voice, it is important that you challenge this type of thinking. Allowing kids to believe self-criticisms can lead to any number of harmful effects. Instead, teach them how to identify negative thoughts and overcome this way of thinking. The goal is that negative self-talk would not become a habit or a way of life. Another strategy is to use positive affirmations to drown out the negative thoughts.

Encourage Kids to Try Something New

Remember, it is good for kids to accept challenges and to try new things. But, be sure you are there to back them up. Try to find a balance between leaving them to figure it out alone and overprotecting them. When you are overprotective, your children begin to feel dependent and helpless.

Address Problems Immediately

You should never pretend not to notice a problem. Ignoring the fact that your child is struggling or dealing with bullies will not encourage your child to toughen up and move on. Instead, it leaves them feeling alone and isolated. If your child has an issue, address it right away with the principal or the teacher.

Discourage Avoidant Behaviors

Kids should always be encouraged to talk about painful events. When we encourage kids to talk about bad things that happened to them, we help them make sense out of those experiences.

Avoiding the issue may result in behavior problems, anxiety, stress, fear, and even anger.

Even though it is uncomfortable at the time, it is best to get everything out in the open.

Reframe Negative Experiences

One way this is done is by helping your child keep things in perspective. When your child is bullied or experiences a significant challenge, reframe the situation so that they can learn from it. This doesn’t mean you should ignore their pain. It is good for them to talk about what happened. But, try to avoid dwelling on the negative. The more children engage in victim-thinking, the worse off they are. Instead, encourage them to try to discover what they can learn from the situation and how to best to overcome bullying.

Look for Self-Discovery Opportunities

When kids are faced with a difficult situation, this also can be a very good time to learn something about who they are. For instance, your child may find that they have a lot of self-control or that situations are easier to navigate when they ask for help.

Help your children turn the negative situation of bullying into an opportunity to learn something about who they are.

Be a Good Role Model

Telling our kids what to do or how to behave in certain situations rarely has as much impact as leading by example. If you demonstrate that you can handle difficult situations and bounce back, your kids will learn by your example.

A Word From Verywell

If you struggle with any of the things on this list, you may want to focus on changing these behaviors in your own life first. Then focus on helping your child. Remember, most of the behaviors kids display are learned by watching others. If you make sure you are putting your best foot forward so will your child.

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4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Hinduja S, Patchin JW. Cultivating youth resilience to prevent bullying and cyberbullying victimization. Child Abuse Negl. 2017;73:51-62. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.09.010

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Building Resilience in Children.

  4. Gollwitzer M, Süssenbach P, Hannuschke M. Victimization experiences and the stabilization of victim sensitivityFront Psychol. 2015;6:439. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00439