Supporting Resilience in the Early Years


  • Orla Walsh Institute of Technology, Sligo
  • John Kane Institute of Technology, Sligo



resilience, ECCE professionals, developmental psychology


 Resilience can be broadly defined as the ability to recover from setbacks, having protective qualities that lead to successful adaptation to life events (Mc Grath & Noble, 2011). A review of the literature indicates there are a growing number of programmes available internationally that aim to support resilience in children. However, these tend to be exclusively targeted at children from age 5 years and up. There is an absence both nationally and internationally of such programmes which focus directly on the very early years, i.e. 0-4 years. 

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ECCE professionals to establish how they nurture resilience in practice. Findings indicate while many of the components that enhance resilience are present in early years settings, they are happening as an indirect consequence of other activities. We conclude that developmental psychology taught to ECCE students should be modified to include a greater focus on nurturing resilience in young children.


Barrett, P. ( 2008) Fun Friends: A facilitator’s guide to building resilience in 4 to 7 year –old children through play, Brisbane, Fun friends publishing

Bowlby, J. (1969) Attachment and Loss, New York, Basic Books

Carr, A. (2011). Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths (2nd edition), Sussex, Routledge

CECDE (Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education) (2006) Síolta: the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education. Dublin, CECDE.

DJELR (Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform) (2002) Quality childcare and lifelong learning: Model framework for education, training and professional development in the early childhood care and education sector. Dublin, Stationery Office.

Erikson, E. (1997). The Life Cycle Completed. New York, Norton

Gaffney, M. (2011) Flourishing, Dublin, Penguin Publications

Ginsburg, K. (2011) Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, Chicago, American Academy of Paediatrics

Growing up in Ireland (GUI) (2009), National Longitudinal Study of Children, The lives of 9 year olds, Dublin, Stationary Office

Grotberg, E. (1995) A guide to promoting resilience in children: strengthening the human spirit. The international resilience project [online] Available from: [25 May 2015]

Hands on Scotland (2009) How to support children in becoming more resilient [online] Available from [25 May 2015]

Hayes, N. (2010) Early Childhood: An Introductory Text. (4th edition). Dublin, Gill & MacMillan

Hooper, J (2012) What children need to be happy, confident and successful. London, Jessica Kingsley

Klein, M. (1957). Envy and Gratitude. A Study of Unconscious Sources. New York, Basic Books

Kane, J & Walsh, O. (2015) Rethinking psychology for ECCE students in the digital era, An Leanbh Óg - the OMEP Ireland Journal of Early Childhood Studies.

Irish College of Psychiatrists (2005): A better future now. Position statement on psychiatric services for children and adolescents in Ireland, Occasional paper OP60, Dublin

Mathers, S., Eisenstadt, N., Sylva, K., Soukakou, E. and Ereky-Stevens, K. (2014) Sound Foundations: A Review of the Research Evidence on Quality of Early Childhood Education and Care for Children Under Three. Implications for Policy and practice, Sutton Trust, [Online], Available from: [25 May 2015]

NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) (2009) Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Dublin, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

Noble, T. & Mc Grath, H. & (2011) Bounce back, Victoria, Pearson Australia

Positive Psychology Centre, The Penn Resilience Programme Curriculum, [online], Available from [25 May 2015]

Seligman, M. (2007) The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience, Boston, Houghton Mifflin

Sinclair, A (2007) 0-5: How Small Children Make a Big Difference, Provocation Series, Vol. 3, Number 1, London, The Work Foundation

Walsh ,O.& Kane, J. (2014) ‘Resilience and Flourishing in the early years’. Psychological Society of Ireland, Conference presentation, Kilkenny, November




How to Cite

Walsh, O., & Kane, J. (2015). Supporting Resilience in the Early Years. International Journal of Practice-Based Learning in Health and Social Care, 3(2), 77–85.