How to foster prosilience


There are six key factors that play a role in fostering prosilience in young children, these are self perception, self control / self regulation, self awareness, self efficacy, social competence, problem solving.  These are discussed in more detail below, having an understanding of these six concepts can help you to prepare your child for unsettling situations

1.      Self-perception

When children begin to perceive themselves, they do it through the eyes of the people and the environment around them. While interacting with others, children observe temperament, tone of voice, facial expressions and body movements. These can all affect how the child perceives themselves.


If a child feels sincerely accepted with all their strengths and weaknesses and not only valued when they have done something particularly well, it will be easier for the child to build up psychological prosilience (Hüther, 2008). Often a change of perspective can help: a child who is described as stubborn could equally be perceived as persistent. In order to support a healthy self-perception in children, parents would need to be able to see their traits in a positive light and model this type of language and attitude for them.

2.      Self-control / self-regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to control your reactions in moments of high emotions. Children begin consolidating this skill at a very early age and they need your support and also the teachers’. Children not only need to know how to identify their emotions in order to better control them, but they also need to know when to ask for help from the adults around them. 


• Maintain a calm attitude when your child becomes frustrated or upset.
• If they fall, instead of immediately rushing to their side, ask “Are you okay?”
• Use positive words when your child is upset, to help them view the situation from a more positive perspective. For example, when leaving from the kindergarten you can say “You are going to have a great day!” or “I will come to pick you up soon” instead of “I’m sorry I have to go”.
• As your child is working on something that is difficult for them, show support, but also help them understand that it is okay not to reach their goal right away.
• Help your child prepare themselves for the moments that may cause them disappointment and might be difficult to control. One of these moments could be the time you need to leave the park or when you need to tidy up the toys to start another activity. A simple warning like “In 5 minutes we will tidy up and get ready for bed” is beneficial to assist in this process.

3.  Self-awareness

Experiences help children become aware of their own body and feelings. It is therefore important to create awareness and empower children to express themselves verbally (Frölich-Gildhoff, 2015). Accepting all children’s feelings will help them understand how to express them in an appropriate way. Reading stories to your child where characters face different kind of situations and discussing their feelings will help your child develop self- awareness. By becoming aware of how they feel and how they can handle a situation, children work on their prosilience skills. 

 4.     Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is a child’s ability to believe they can take control over the situations they encounter. This trait is often seen as self-confidence and the ability to problem solve and to approach challenges with openness instead of negativity. Children’s expectations of themselves are important for the way they approach a situation. These expectations depend on the child’s own previous experiences (Frölich-Gildhoff, 2015). 

You can support your child’s self-efficacy by giving them opportunities to make choices and feel in control of a situation, so they will be able to build the confidence they need to handle future challenges. Resilient children are proud of themselves and their achievements. They firmly believe their actions can make a difference, they accept difficult tasks as opportunities and are confident in their abilities. Self-efficacy is reflected in optimism and has a motivating effect on the child. Therefore, it is very important for you to be a constant source of support and encouragement while children navigate new challenges.


• Giving them participation rights
• Transferring responsibility
• Showing empathy
• Modeling authenticity
• Being patient
• Listen actively

5.     Social competence

Children’s social competence is about learning to build relationships with their peers and adults around them. Having friends and people to rely on when you deal with an unexpected situation makes it a lot easier to get through. Relationships with the people around us become a support network and as the network strengthens so will the support we receive.

When children start going to kindergarten, they will need support to form friendships with their peers and build trust with their teachers. You can help your child by having a positive attitude towards their teachers and by setting up playdates with their peers. 

Another way to help your child work on their social competence is by modelling positive relationships with the people around you. This means having a friendly and empathetic attitude towards people you come in contact with. 

6.      Problem solving

A child uses problem solving skills to successfully deal with challenges as they arise. A child’s character can be affected by their ability to solve a situation. That means they can use these skills to learn how to set realistic goals for themselves, encourage themselves to take risks, explore their environment with confidence and to come up with their own solutions to challenges that come their way (Frölich-Gildhoff, 2015). 


• “We can try it again soon”
• “How can we make the best of this situation”
• “We will find a solution”
• ”You would like to build a house. How can you do that? What materials can you use?”
• “You and your sister both want to play with the baby, but there is only one. What can you do?”

Encouraging children to find solutions to small challenges in their everyday life and teaching them to think outside the box is a great way to develop their problem-solving skills.