How to train children for resilience

How to train children for resilience
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After a prolonged time that has tested the emotional skills of the little ones - the health emergency caused by Covid-19 -, it is important to support the growth of children, helping them to find within themselves the adequate resources to face all the challenges of the moment.

, doctor and psychotherapist of the developmental age, in the book The storm is passing (Centro Studi Erickson), proposes a path, aimed at kindergarten and early primary school children, which intends to help them explore their own inner resources with which to cope with difficulties.

Starting from the rhyme story from which the author drew an original song by the Zecchino d'Oro for the school The storm is passing, set to music by Paolo Giovanni D'Errico and sung by the Piccolo Coro "Mariele Ventre" of the Antoniano directed by Sabrina Simoni, the book proposes ten actions to train for resilience accompanied by some activities to be carried out in groups that allow the educator to recruit all the multiple intelligences of the Howard Gardner model. The goal is to help reinforce children's self-regulatory skills in a playful, cheerful and fun way, but above all to restore hope after such a prolonged extra-ordinary time.

The appendix of the book, edited by Annarosa Colonna, child neuropsychiatrist of Antoniano's Outpatient Therapeutic Center, also offers guided dramatization-game activities so that the song is shared as an experience of authentic inclusion by all boys and girls. 

We interviewed and asked him for some more information about the book and how to train the resilience of the little ones. 

In this article


How to train children for resilience?

«The book proposes many concrete activities. On the one hand there are clear indications, such as lyrics, narrations, etc., and, in this case, also a song, which teaches children to give word to what is happening, to what they themselves are feeling.

Help the children find the right words

So, a first piece of advice is to help children find the right words: stories and narratives ("and all that it tells") are ways that allow children to face and process difficult situations better. 

The song and the book tell the story of a child who sees a great storm approaching his life and which causes him to stay indoors for a week. He dreams of wanting to do many things without being able to do them. In the second part of the song, life and the world reopen their doors, you can return outside, and the dimension of hope also returns. In a short time like that of the song or the story told in the book, the children make a journey into the life story of which they were protagonists.

Use the resources of the body

The second tool we propose is to use the resources of the body: many of our emotional states that keep us at the mercy are reflected in our body size. In the book we offer the experience of relaxation, control, breathing, etc.

We let the little ones do it some exercises: they are those who aim to learn how to keep emotions under control through the competence of our body. We propose the same thing through guided imagery, which helps to imagine the ways out of difficult situations.

Holding the hand of children when crossing a storm

The book's other resource is that children do all of these things with the guidance of a competent adult who holds them by the hand as they traverse a storm. Therefore, children have so competent adults next to them, not frightened, who guide them through the storm with competence, tools and activities. This allows you to experience relationships with adults who succeed, while often the frightened adult can also become a frightening adult », explains Pellai.

"The storm is passing"

he stated that the book was born from a song that had been written for the next edition of the Zecchino d'Oro. «We had sent her for selection, we had imagined that it was necessary for children to have an easy-to-use tool, with a high emotional impact, can be sung even by the little ones, to rework the whole experience.

In reality, the song was not included in those foreseen between the 14 of the Zecchino d'Oro, but it was reported as a song that could have supported a school restart project, especially for children aged 3 to 7, who are the children to whom it has been more difficult to explain the complex dynamics of these times. 

In a project that involved Antoniano, Erickson and Rai Ragazzi, it was decided to try to make very easy to use, beautiful and immediate tools available to the school restart, families and small children, with which to help and support the restart. . We do this now in relation to Covid, but the project uses the metaphor of the storm, starting from the idea that the storms of life can always occur. The book can be a tool to go through all the complexities associated with the "storm of life" ». 

Read also: Tips for training children to deal with the unexpected in life

Facing Life's Challenges: What's the Power of Music?

«Music, with melodies, enters the emotional part of our brain, then activates the part of our mind that feels emotions, life. It is an immediate language, which children immediately grasp because since they are little they have become accustomed to lullabies. Think also of how many parents have been selecting music since the time of pregnancy. 

Words, on the other hand, enter the child's cognitive mind, provide images, allow us to rekindle situations in which the child was but did not have the words to be able to tell them. Instead, inside a song with meanings that reflect what he has gone through in life, the child finds those "missing words". While listening to the song, the little one keeps the cognitive dimension and the emotional dimension together: this allows the two aspects to be integrated and is good for the mind. 

When we fail to go through a complex situation, it is often because our emotional brain is at the mercy of situations that we cannot manage and we cannot connect with our cognitive brain. A song, on the other hand, which reworks a complex situation instead, it enters the two dimensions of the brain at the same time with a message that keeps the two areas connected and thus allows us to function better ».

Read also: Music and Children: benefits, tools and how to approach them

Actions to train for resilience

  1. "Relaxation. It is a wonderful action for children and parents. Play some relaxing background music, have the children lie down on the ground, suggest that they close their eyes and imagine that you are a rigid ice statue, which slowly melts thanks to some rays of the sun. 
  2. To sing. Children like it very much. You can sing along, helping the little ones remember the words of the song.
  3. Guided Imagination. Help the children use their imagination to reactivate the memory of good experiences they have already had. This activity can be carried out using a specific image for each boy and girl, such as, for example, the "lake of calm" and the "sea of ​​peace" "
Read also: Let's play to relax: meditation for children

  • how to teach resilience to children
  • Resilience
  • child psychology
  • psychology of children
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