Strait's Times Interview on Building Resilience in Child

I was being interviewed on the subject of building resilience in our children. Source: Original article found here.


Recently I did an interview with the Straits Times on building resilience in our child and some of my thoughts were featured in that article. But I thought I would share a fuller version of what I shared with the reporter over here to benefit more parents who might need this reminder.

On the subject of building resilience, my personal belief is that it can’t be taught in the classrooms but rather it has to be facilitated by adults and especially parents at the right moments.  Resilience is not needed when everything is going smooth and in fact, we often will not focus on during good times. But really it is something that has to be cultivated and developed actively with our child during times of setbacks, failures, disappointment and even “threats”.

So today if you are a parent dealing with a young child or even a teenager, the question we have to think about is whether do we know how to build resilience in them when opportunities arises? And in fact, do we know what to say and ask and approach them when they are faced with all kinds of setbacks? Today we might all have very different ideas of how to do that due to our own upbringings and exposure. So here I hope to offer some pointers that I hope you will be able to consider.

Ways in which parents can build resilience in their child:

  1. Pay attention to their strengths

Many people have often misunderstood that paying attention to their strengths means just stroking their ego and praising them all day long. Let me share with you my version and intention of why I want to pay attention to their strengths.

Knowing their strengths in good times is the key to knowing how we can tap into their strength during bad times. It takes intentional efforts to really know someone. And sometimes as parents, we tend to take for granted that we really know our own child, thinking that we know them inside out. But do we really? Have we lost touch with them recently? Are we truly aware of what they are up to recently? Our child is really in a developing stage so how can we really know them and their strengths well if we don’t pay close attention to them every day?

Therefore, as parents, once we know their strengths and character, we will be able to remind them of their strengths when the opportunity arises. It is one thing to give advice but it is totally another level to remind them of their own “superpowers” that they possess!

2. Resilience has to be facilitated and built with them

While the idea of throwing people into the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim still exists, we ought to really rely on a more consistent and developmental approach with our child. One that would really allow us to “walk” with them through the situation, debriefing with them moment by moment. Sometimes we forget that learning and growth is not automatic process. It still takes a teacher, a mentor, a coach and a parent to process it with them. Depending on the extent of what they are going through, we have to cater accordingly the time and attention for them. Failed tests, bullied by friends, lost in their favourite computer game or sports, scolded by teachers etc.. all of these are perfect moments to build resilience in them, bit by bit.

3. EARS Process to build resilience

Here is a simple EARS process that’s based on the Solution Focused Approach which I apply in my coaching with parents and even supervision with professionals.

In this process, we start with:

E – Ellicit the positives, something small that they are glad/thankful about their situation. At this stage, we have to be very curious about how they made it through whatever negative experiences or moments they faced. It is very crucial that we pay attention to the “diamonds” rather than the “soil” that it’s buried in. Eg. of questions that we can ask are, “How did you manage to make it through that?”, “What made you able to handle all these?”, “I noticed that you were able to not give up and still go on. What made you do that?”

A – Amplify what you found out earlier. At this phase, you will really take what you found out earlier and just expand the conversation. Go deeper, probe, find out and be curious. Bring it to the surface of their consciousness on the depths of their courage, strength and let them know that it’s really not easy to make it through whatever. During this phase, you may find it difficult to get use to the efforts taken to affirm them and praise them. But once you get past the initial awkwardness, you will start seeing the positive responses that will come back as a result.

R – Reinforce what you heard and found out. This is the part where we learn how to bring their learnings and lessons deeper and let them know that what they have done is truly commendable and that we are really glad that they did that. Sometimes as parents, we only focused on telling them what not to do but we never spend enough time on reinforcing the positives that they are already exhibiting during such times.

S – Start over the whole process again if there’s room and space. No one said that we can only focus on 1 thing! In fact, for each experience or incident, there are always multiple learning lessons and points to be taken away. While we want to condense everything into 1 sentence, we all know that it takes a lot more effort and time if we truly want to see our child become more and more resilient!

I hope that these ideas and tips can start you on a journey to continuously build resilience in your child. And if at any point in time where you are feeling challenged and lack the confidence in doing so, please reach out and drop me an email at I will be happy to support you in any way that I can!

All the best!


Coach Joe Chan

PS: You can read another reflection of the interview which I touched on the topic of building resilience in our kids.

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