March 2024 childrens blog healthy minds resilience
Missions Discipleship

How to Promote Resilience in Children

This blog is part of a series on Fostering Healthy Minds in Children at Church that provides strategies children’s leaders can use to foster healthy minds in children to whom they minister. And, hey, you may even pick up a tip or two to help those in your personal circles! If you’re new to the series, we encourage you to check out the introduction here.

Feeling connected and capable go hand in hand. When children feel connection and belonging, they are more likely to persevere and push through difficult tasks, demonstrating persistence and resilience. This translates into a child feeling capable.

Feeling capable as an adult is a core belief molded early on, so this is one of the most important things children need to learn and know about themselves. And it’s a core belief you can help foster. No pressure!

This concept goes beyond just making children feel like they could make a cute craft or complete a page in Missions Journey: Kids Adventure.

As a leader, you are discipling children in how to pray for missions, learn about missions, support missions, and do missions and tell about Jesus. All of these characteristics require persistence and resilience.

Here are some things you can do to help mold a healthy belief in children in your group that they are capable of doing hard things.

Provide Opportunities

As an adult, one of the hardest things is to let a child do something you really think is going to fail. Ask yourself, why are you scared of letting them fail? Hiccups and failures don’t have to be scary. They are opportunities for growth and learning. Don’t be afraid to let children try out their ideas or participate in challenging activities. Don’t steal their opportunities for growth!


Promote resilience while children learn they are capable by acknowledging a child’s emotions and challenges. When something goes awry with their plans, reflect (repeat) back to them that you understand it may be difficult and frustrating. Even if you think something is simple or easy, it may not be for the child. Let children know you are there and they aren’t alone. In any case, do not dismiss the difficulty for the child. Children’s perception is their reality.

Focus on the P’s

Two things leaders need to focus on during a challenge or a failure are process and progress.

Let’s start with process. Too many times, both intentionally and unintentionally, society focuses on the end result and not the process. In fostering resilience and helping children overcome challenges, we have to focus on their process. Help children understand you care more about how they worked through a problem, regardless of the actual end result. Sometimes things don’t work out, and we can’t change that. In everything, a child is more than what they produce! (As a bonus, maybe this hits home for some of you chronic over-workers!)

Now on to progress. It is imperative we focus on individual progress and goals when considering how to encourage resilience in children. Comparison truly does crush the soul. Make sure you praise and encourage individual growth and progress: One child’s 100% might look like another child’s 50%. And guess what? That’s OK! Everywhere we turn, comparisons to other peoples’ success are blasted in our face. This can do a number on our self-esteem if we aren’t careful. Let your group be one place children feel protected from comparison.


What I am about to say is super important — the part your teacher tells you to highlight because it’s on the test: always debrief. When your group does something challenging, when something doesn’t go as planned, or even when you experience an epic fail, debrief! As someone with personal experience with epic fails, I can assure you this is crucial.

As a group, or individually (depending), talk about what happened. Talk through what was hard and why. Talk about what you could do better next time. Talk about what went right. Address strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, always talk about what you learned through the process. This helps everyone to process together what you experience and understand that mistakes, failures, and mess-ups are OK and ways we learn!

As always, pray for the children in your group. God has a plan for them, whether it is as a construction worker, a mom, in a desk job, as a pastor, or even a missionary. No matter where God uses them, they will need resilience and persistence when they are faced with life’s challenges.

Brooklyn Hancock is Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, mom, and former Certified School Counselor. Her passions are working with children, adolescents, teens, adults, and parents to navigate life’s toughest challenges.

Disclaimer: The information shared on is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.