As much as we try to avoid them, stressful events happen to everyone—even children—at some point in life. The quality known as resilience helps children (and adults) recover from or adjust to misfortune, bounce back, and overcome odds. Resilient children also get along well with others, deal with change in positive ways, and are socially and emotionally healthier. They are always ready for today, tomorrow, and beyond!

In Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure: 50 Activities to Promote Resilience in Young Children, Nefertiti Bruce and Karen Cairone provide activities that promote social development, emotional development, and resilience in  children ages 3–8. Try this sample activity to help children build trusting relationships with caring adults.

That’s My Name!

What Children Will Learn

Most children like hearing their names used in positive and fun ways. When adults take the time to talk with each child individually, it promotes a stronger bond. Exposing children early to making personal connections through use of others’ names is a great way to begin promoting social and emotional development because it gives them a secure base to help them establish trust, feel attached, and know they are safe to explore and learn new things.

Social and Emotional Skill Supported

Attachment

Materials Needed

None

What to Do

  • Use the children’s names and give them one-on-one attention every day to help develop their self-confidence. Whenever possible, notice something special about them, and make this a part of your greeting as well. “Good morning, Nicole. I see you put on your really fast red shoes today.” “Curtis, what a nice smile you have on your face this afternoon!”
  • Encourage the children to use the names of others they meet and interact with. Instead of just saying, “Hi” when they see a friend, we can model by using that child’s name. When a child is entering a new situation, help introduce all of the children to each other, just as you would when adults are just meeting.
  • When singing songs or reading stories, replace the characters’ names with names of the children, for example, “Liz and the Three Little Pigs” or “When Amanda Gets Angry!”
  • For an added touch, pick two or three children each day (depending on the number of children in your care) whom you will reach out to and spend special time with throughout the day. For example, you can join them in play, while reading, or when they are enjoying a snack. Remember to always ask the children first if it is okay to join them in an activity. Add the initials of these children to your lesson plan (or daily plan) to help you remember to join them in the activities they enjoy throughout the day.
  • Sing the familiar songs below, taking turns inserting the children’s names.     

“Stand Up” (Sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques”)

Stand up, ____. Stand up, ____.

Reach up high. Reach up high.

Reach up very high, ____.

Reach up to the sky, ____.

Then sit down. Then sit down.

“Look Who’s Here!” (Sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)

____ came to school today.

We’re so glad; we’ll shout “Hooray!”

“Where Is ____?” (Sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques”)

Teacher: Where is (say child’s name)?

Where is (say child’s name)?

Child: Here I am, here I am.

Teacher: How are you today, (say child’s name)?

Child: Very well, I thank you.

Teacher and child: Here we are, here we are!

Do This at Home

Try this activity at home to reinforce what your child learned about building relationships and making personal connections.

What Your Child Will Learn

Exposing children early to making personal connections through use of others’ names is a great way to begin promoting social and emotional development because it gives them a secure base to help them establish trust, feel attached, and know they are safe to explore and learn new things.

Materials Needed

Pictures of friends and family members  

What to Do

  • Show your child the pictures of friends and family members. Ask your child to name each person.
  • Talk with your child about his or her name and how it was chosen.
  • Make up a funny story together, using the people from the photographs and your child.
  • Act out the conversation. You play the role of the person in the photograph, making sure to focus on saying your child’s name.