Parenting Resources

Teaching Resilience to Infants and Toddlers

As parents, we want to protect and help our infants and toddlers through every situation, as we tend to view them as helpless and in need of our assistance. However, by 9 months of age, most infants are capable of understanding language and expressing their emotions. They are developing mobility and an ability to grasp a small object between their thumb and first finger. They are becoming capable to do some things for themselves – such as feed themselves. So, before you quickly step in to help your infant or toddler, ask yourself if she might be capable of helping herself – and then allow her to do so.

  1. Allow your child to start feeding himself – by 9 months of age, if not sooner. Not only will he realize he is capable, but he can decide whether or not he is hungry.
  2. Infants and toddlers feel more comfortable when their days are structured. Routines help them feel assured and safe, so they are more likely to explore their environments when there is a routine to each day.
  3. As your toddler begins walking, encourage her with your smiles and words, but don’t be too quick to pick her up when she falls down. Consider saying, “You can do it. Up you get.” And allow her to ‘discover she can recover’.
  4. Allow your toddler to try a new task, even if it seems it might be too difficult. You and your toddler will never know whether he can climb the rungs on the slide unless you let him try (with you close by!).
  5. Allow your toddler to experience frustration. Saying “no” to your child helps your child learn how to handle disappointment as well as problem solve.
  6. Demonstrate sharing and helping others.
  7. Acknowledge emotions. “I see you are disappointed that we cannot go to the park. I’m disappointed, too.” Even though your toddler cannot use the emotions words yet in conversation, it is important for her to know that emotions are a normal response to life situations.