Interactions are the Heart of Resilience
Nurturing Resilience

Barbara Brody, Toiresa Frazier, Megan Pratt and Shannon Tierney Lipscomb
PNW 765 | February 2022 |

Resilience is adapting positively to life’s challenges. Resilience is for everyone. We nurture resilience by caring for ourselves and each other.

When you respond to a child in distress, you help him feel safe. When you encourage a child’s efforts, you make her fe

What we know

Caring, responsive interactions build relationships that are the heart of nurturing resilience. We call this
“Serve and Return.” It is simple, but powerful! It helps young children build trust, self-regulation, and language and relational skills.

Serve: The child serves by saying, doing or looking at something, or by expressing an emotion.

Return: The adult returns the serve by responding in a way that is sensitive, such as joining the child, sharing supportive or encouraging words, initiating appropriate eye contact, or using gestures.

When children experience trauma or other challenges in life, Serve and Return can help them feel safe, empowered and valued. This is critical for healing and nurturing resilience.

What can we do?

Practice Serve and Return with your child during the little moments each day.

You can practice Serve and Return during meals or snacks, play time, shopping, cooking, or routines like diapering or tooth brushing.

The important thing is to tune in, notice a child’s Serve and Return it! Then go back and forth in interaction.


For more information on trauma-informed care for children, visit Roots of Resilience.

About the authors

Shannon Tierney Lipscomb
Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Human Development and Family Sciences
Oregon State University Cascades

Was this page helpful?