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Greenfield School

Wellbeing and Resilience in Early Childhood

As a spotlight feature in our latest Little School newsletter, Nursery Manager Julie Swords writes about how we can support our children's resilience and mental wellbeing early in life. 

All children have emotional needs that underpin the way they act and how they cope with pressure.  Taking risks and trying new things can be daunting, however, how well children are able to cope with this will depend partly on the support they are given and partly on their own reserves of confidence and strength. Assurance and self-esteem have their roots established in early childhood and this is therefore a critical phase of their development.

It is essential that adults help children to feel positive about themselves and the choices they make.  Children who grow up hearing criticism or believing they are helpless, are likely to have lower self-esteem.  In turn, they are likely to set themselves fewer challenges and have less ambition.  They may also find it harder to cope with pressure.  One of the ways in which adults can help children become resilient is by teaching them to take control of situations and face obstacles with a positive mindset.  Some autonomy or control over parts of their lives is one of the four fundamental emotional needs that children have (others being: security, belonging and agency).

Creating an emotionally and psychologically safe environment for children whilst they are at nursery is crucial.  A sense of belonging, together with consistent relationships and safe boundaries where unconditional acceptance and warm, kind and supportive interactions take place, creates a firm base for children to learn.  Listening to children’s concerns and demonstrating empathy will support children’s confidence and sense of self, i.e.: “I am important, and my concerns are being listened to.”

It is important to teach children that it’s OK to fail at a task, that the important aspect of learning anything is to have a go, and that sometimes it’s helpful to break tasks down into smaller more manageable steps.  Confidence to “have a go” and bounce back when failure comes is an important life skill and will strengthen your child’s ambition to succeed at whatever they have the courage to take on throughout their life.


Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

- Winston Churchill

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