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Emergency Information → Resources → Mental Health: Building Resiliency

Developing resiliency in children in the face of adversity

From the Office of Student and Community Services, Department of Student Services

What is resiliency?

Resiliency is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or other significant sources of stress. In short resiliency is the ability to "bounce back" from difficult experiences. People regularly demonstrate resiliency; it is not an extraordinary trait. Resilient people have certain skills in common. These skills can be taught and strengthened in children and adults of all ages.

People who are resilient demonstrate:

  • Sociability: Form healthy relationships
  • Optimism: View self and the future positively
  • Flexibility: Accept that change is a part of living
  • Self-confidence: Move toward goals. Bases decisions/choices on own instincts and confidence in own abilities
  • Competence: Are "good" at something, and are aware of own skills
  • Insightfulness: Understand people and situations
  • Perseverance: Continue despite difficulty, doesn't give up
  • Perspective: Try to see even difficult situations in perspective. Views crises as challenges to be faced, rather than insurmountable obstacles.
  • Self Control: Manage strong feelings and impulses

What adults can do to build resiliency in children

  • Teach problem solving strategies
  • Model empathy and tolerance
  • Promote strong adult-child relationships characterized by positive communication in the classroom, family, etc
  • Interact warmly, minimizing criticism
  • Promote sharing of responsibilities, service to others
  • Teach relationship building skills
    • Effective verbal and non-verbal communication
    • Strategies for handling miscommunication and conflict
  • Initiate conversations about emotions. Offer various healthy suggestions for expressing emotions.
  • Model and communicate the attitude that crises are challenges to be faced, not insurmountable obstacles

Helping the children in our lives develop resiliency skills will enable them to better manage any current crisis or stress they are experiencing. Additionally, developing these skills will better prepare them to handle any crisis or stress they may face in the future

Sources and Resources

Information contained in this document was developed with input from the following sources: