Nurturing Resilience in Children: Practical Tips from a Play Therapist Katie Roth

Interview with Katie Roth


My today’s quest is Katie Roth. Katie is a play and music therapist working in a mainstream Latvian public school with children and young people with emotional, social, and behavioral difficulties. Previously a teacher, she always had on her heart those children who struggled in school for whatever reason but felt she didn’t have the time or skills to help them effectively. Therefore Katie completed music therapy training in Latvia and play therapy training in the UK and set up her school-based practice. With each young person she works with, she is to discover the ‘gold’ in them, to celebrate that gold, creating space for them to grow and flourish. 

In this episode, Katie Roth shares valuable insights on resilience in children. She emphasizes the importance of the role of parents and caregivers in supporting kids. Her expertise sheds light on the power of active listening, empathy, playfulness, and many more to build resilience in children. By implementing practical strategies, parents can foster an environment that promotes emotional well-being and enables children to bounce back from challenging situations.

To understand better what resilience is, Katie explains:

‘We have to look at resilience from different sides. Each person experiences things differently and also defines things differently. So I think a basic definition of resilience is the ability to bounce back from a difficult experience. So, you’ve experienced something that might be slightly traumatic or might have been difficult or really challenging. Or somebody had an accident or a medical issue, or a friendship breakup, anything. If we have enough resilience, then human beings have a natural ability to bounce back and get back on their feet and keep on living and living well.’ 

Katie explains that children naturally possess this capacity to bounce back, but certain factors influence their ability to do it even more. Here are some practical tips on how to build resilience in children:

  • A conviction that their parents love them. If a child is resilient, he will have some level of conviction that his parents love him. Even if he has only one parent, that one parent loves him. The felt knowledge that he is loved contributes to the child’s resilience.
  • There are also other adults besides the parents who help to care for the child. It’s not just too stressed-out adults having to deal with everything – it might be grandparents, neighbors, a babysitter, a nanny, or school teachers. This support network around parents influences the resilience of a child. It’s like a safety net.
  • Active listening and empathy. Katie emphasizes the significance of active listening when children share their emotions or concerns. By attentively listening and reflecting back to the child, parents demonstrate understanding and validate their child’s feelings. Acceptance and empathy provide a foundation for children to feel seen and supported, ultimately enhancing their resilience.
  • Asking open-ended questions. Rather than providing immediate solutions or advice, Katie encourages parents to ask open-ended questions that stimulate critical thinking in children. This approach helps children explore their solutions and boosts their problem-solving skills. By engaging in this process, parents empower their children to overcome challenges autonomously, further developing their resilience.


  • Play as a catalyst for resilience. Play is a powerful tool for fostering resilience in children. It encompasses recreational activities, a creative mindset, joyful connections, and playful interactions. Encouraging children to engage in imaginative play and nurturing a sense of curiosity stimulates their creativity and problem-solving abilities, ultimately strengthening their resilience.


  • Knowing that mom or dad is thinking about them. If the child knows that his mom is holding him in mind, that can be very powerful, even if the parent is not physically present. That might be a photograph of her in his school bag, a little coin, a stone, or something in his pocket, that reminds him: my mom is thinking about me!
  • Self-reflection. Parents working with their inner stuff. When we work on ourselves, we understand ourselves better. Understanding who I am? What is my temperament? What do I need? What makes me feel awful? What gives me energy? What saps it? What do I need to ask from my husband or other people around me? And then ask for what I need or seek out ways to meet my needs because a lot of parents run on empty. (*)
  • Forgiveness. Recognising that perfection is unattainable, Katie encourages parents to forgive themselves for moments of frustration or anger. Seeking forgiveness from their children and openly discussing the reasons behind their reactions enables parents and children to repair relationships and further nurture resilience.

Katie encourages listeners:

In most likelihood, if you’re listening to this, you already are a good enough parent! As parents, we have a tendency to worry, feel guilty, blame ourselves, think, ‘Oh, I’m screwing my kid up. I’m not doing this enough. I’m doing too much of that.’ Generally speaking, parents are good enough!

Your effort in caring for your child with all your heart is so needed and goes further than you can imagine. As Katie notes:

There is a saying that it only takes one positive adult in a child’s life to absolutely make the difference. If a child has gone through an adverse childhood experience – all the bad and difficult things that could possibly happen to a child, which might completely ruin their life and obviously, we see people who had those experiences and their lives effectively have been ruined. But then again, you see adults who had terrible childhoods, and who are thriving today, and they’re still alive, and they’ve got a job and they’ve got a family and they’re doing okay! Normally, they will have had at least one positive, caring adult in their life who made a difference. And that could be a parent, grandparent, teacher, neighbour. And I think it’s encouraging for all of us that even just a little bit of being that positive adult to a child, whether it’s our own or somebody else’s child can have an effect that maybe we will never, ever know or understand. So yeah, that’s a big, big thing!

(*) To discover yourself – your design, strengths and weaknesses, what energies you and what saps your energy and other aspects of your personality, check  out Life Purpose discovery themes in life coaching offer here:

 Listen to the full interview with Katie Roth here: Apple Podcasts

She will share practical strategies how parents can foster an environment that promotes emotional well-being and enables children to bounce back from challenging situations.


Some of Katie’s favorite movies:

Shawshank Redemption


Rain Man


More on our guest


LinkedIn: Katie Roth


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