Support a Child’s Resilience by Pointing to the Positive

Children learn best when they feel safe, relaxed, loved, and confident. Emotions that are the opposite can make learning a struggle.

Researchers who study Adverse Childhood Experiences, often referred to as ACEs, are flipping some of their work upside down to see what happens when children have Positive Childhood Experiences.

What their evidence shows is that healthy relationships, safe spaces, emotional intelligence, and feelings of belonging support HOPE—H.O.P.E. That acronym stands for Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences.

Here are some questions you can ask your child regularly to support HOPE. You might also make sure adults at school are asking questions like these, too.

  • Tell me, what is going well?
  • What is fun?
  • Where are you successful?
  • Can you tell me something that makes you proud?
  • Where do you feel like you belong?
  • Please, tell me something about how important you are.

Do you want to ask better questions that are more relevant for teenagers? Here are some examples to get you started: 

  1. Instead of asking “What went well for your child today?”, you could ask “What made you happy or proud today?” 
  1. Instead of asking “What did your child learn from a challenging situation?”, you could ask “Have you faced any difficulties recently, and how did you handle them?” 
  1. Instead of asking “What are your child’s strengths and how did they use them today?”, you could ask “What do you think you’re good at, and how did you show it today?” 
  1. Instead of asking “What are your child’s goals and what progress did they make towards them?”, you could ask “What are some things you’re working towards right now, and what steps have you taken to get there?” 
  1. Instead of asking “What positive things did your child notice in others or the world today?”, you could ask “Did you see anything that made you feel hopeful or inspired today?” 
  1. Instead of asking “How did your child show kindness or gratitude today?”, you could ask “Did you do anything nice for someone else today, or did someone do something nice for you?” 
  1. Instead of asking “What activities or hobbies did your child enjoy today?”, you could ask “What have you been doing lately that you really enjoy or find interesting?” 

Remember to make your questions relatable and create a safe space for teenagers to share their thoughts and feelings.