Tell me about… Ways to build kids’ resilience and confidence

April 6th, 2023 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

Katie O’Donoghue

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A new book by author, art psychotherapist and illustrator Katie O’Donoghue is all about helping children develop their coping skills

Why did you start writing childrens’ books?

My background is as an art psychotherapist and I began writing my first children’s book while working for Camhs in the UK during the height of the pandemic. At the time I was facilitating a parent’s group, supporting them in understanding and helping their children manage worry and anxiety. Missing home I began to draw Irish woodland characters, starting with a Little Red Squirrel...and thus The Little Squirrel Who Worried, my first children’s book, came to be.

Tell us about your second book? 

The Little Otter Who Tried, book two in a wellbeing series (published by Gill Books), was inspired by my conversations with parents whose children were returning to normal life after the pandemic. Many parents shared with me how they felt their child was overwhelmed and were looking for resources or ways to support them. So, I began a similar process, where I painted the character of a little baby otter and felt inspired to create a story of her journey to the big river.

Your tips to help build resilience in children? 

Resilience is very much related to context, in fact there are three pillars that need to be in place to support a child’s resilience: the relationship between child and parent/care giver, a child’s own inner resources and coping skills, and lastly, connection and belonging to their wider community and peers. 

Modelling that we all can make mistakes is really important for children because they start to think of mistakes as a natural part of the learning process. 

This leads to a few important changes in learning behaviour: Children are more likely to stop avoiding challenging experiences that risk the chance of making a mistake.

Children become less likely to try to ignore their mistakes or hide them from others because they learn not to feel ashamed.

• ISPCC and are joining with Katie to deliver a seminar on April 25th and May 9th to help equip parents and teachers with skills to build resilience. Register at

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