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Characteristics of Resilience

Updated on February 19, 2014
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.


Definition of Resilience

Resilience is the ability to maintain a stable frame of mind during situations which are disruptive to your well being. People who are resilient are mentally strong and emotionally stable. Not only can they adapt easily to change but they can also make it work to their advantage.

Resilient children are confident and possess self esteem, they are socially interactive, able to solve problems and can react appropriately to adversity or hardships.

While experts don't necessarily agree on the exact definition of resilience, they do agree that people are not born with a resilient trait but rather that it is a continuous process that begins with parenting and continues through schools, communities, churches, social interactions and social factors. It is the constant development of productive coping mechanisms that evolve within children, adolescents, teens and adults.

Resilience is also a method of recovery from trauma, danger or severe distress. People who are exposed to caustic situations may experience immediate and negative physiological symptoms but will recover over a period of time. The biggest risk factors for trauma recovery are: age at the time of the incident and whether or not the individual has strong family support.

Which of the following has the most influence on a child's resilience?

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The Science Behind Resilience

Since the development of resilience is an ongoing process, it is important to recognize that in different populations there will be different strengths and weaknesses which are indicative of the entire group, no matter what types of difficulties they face. In difficult situations, resources work in different ways. Children who live in poverty and do not have access to good schools would benefit tremendously from a more abundant lifestyle and better schooling. The same is not true for a child who comes from a wealthy home and a private school.

Resilience can be understood two-dimensionally. It is based on the amount of distress to the individual and their positive adjustment. Risk factors include any situations which would cause duress or prevent appropriate adjustment to the individual. Experts agree that family, cultural and social factors play a critical role in the development of resilience among youth who are considered "at-risk."


Components of Resilience

  1. Strong family bonds
  2. Understand perspective and keep issues in proper context
  3. Accept situations that cannot change
  4. Develop self esteem and confidence
  5. Take care of the mind, body and soul
  6. Discover opportunities in both positive and negative settings
  7. Set and attain goals
  8. Able to handle stress
  9. Make good decisions in difficult situations
  10. Maintain a sense of hope and expectation

Building Resilient Kids

When children are born parents often jest about how great it would be if kids came with a handbook. Since they don't, it's completely up to the parents to jump start healthy, happy children who will be able to make their way in the world as productive citizens.

Every child is unique; learning in different ways and at a different paces. Since there is not a proven methodology for raising the ideal resilient child, there is a useful guide which can be applied to all children.

Blueprint For Success: Resilient Kids

  1. Validate and empathize: When your kiddo is trying to express their point of view, it's important that you attempt to understand their perspective. If you empathize with how they are feeling and you let them know that you understand, it will help build mutual respect and trust.
  2. Teach in the moment: If you have repeatedly asked your child to do something that has repeatedly not been done, instead of using your stock response, try using some fresh tactics. Change the way you are teaching. Negative reinforcement hasn't been a successful means of behavior modification since the dark ages so teach your kiddo with benevolence and love.
  3. Love unconditionally: It's crucial that children have a strong bond with a parent, guardian or an adult that makes them feel safe and appreciated. Kids blossom in atmosphere where they are praised for their strengths and accepted without judgement. Kids love to be loved.
  4. Be a good communicator and a great listener: When your kiddo is talking about something important - including things that are important to them, use your active listening skills. Look them in the eyes. Respond to what they are saying. Engage them in more conversation by asking questions and don't interrupt while they have "the floor."
  5. Teach your children to pay-it-forward: Having a connection to the greater good is important because it establishes a connection between kids, peers and the community. Acts of kindness are wonderful for a child's self confidence.
  6. Provide discipline that is appropriate and justified: The two things you should always remember when you are handing down the verdict is: be consistent and keep the situation in proper perspective. It's unrealistic to be grounded for 105 days because the bicycles were left out in the driveway overnight, but it is realistic to do the dinner dishes and lose bicycle privileges for a week.
  7. Work with your kids to set goals and how to recover when mistakes are made: Goal setting is important because when a child successfully attains a goal, they feel a sense of accomplishment. However small that triumph may be, it is a win and it should be celebrated. When a child makes a mistake, use the occasion to teach them that it's an opportunity to learn and grow as opposed to being a moment of failure.
  8. Help your kids learn how to make good choices and to be problem solvers: When kids come across difficult situations they need guidance to learn how to make good choices. Teaching children to see causal relationships and to consider the consequence of their actions is essential for kids to learn. Discussing many different outcomes and solutions with your kiddo will help them understand the importance of making logical, rational and appropriate choices.

Resilience Among Cultures

money, education, employment, medical assistance and basic necessities
Supportive relationships
parents, siblings, relatives and peers
Personal identity
having a sense of purpose, hope, goals, values and spiritual identity
Personal strength
taking care of one's own personal needs
Cultural identity
understanding and practicing cultural practices and traditions
Social equality and justice
having a purposeful role in the community
Alignment with peers
finding balance between interest and responsibility to contributing to society


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    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Robert, Thank you for the excellent comment. It definitely makes a difference for a child when they have resilient characteristics. Those characteristics become their life support systems. Thank you for reading and commenting. -K

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 

      7 years ago from California

      Very good article with useful tips to benefit everyone. Having worked with high school and elementary students a bit, I can agree that these are all very important. You can truly tell the difference between kids who have parents that work hard to develop them into confident, resilient people, and those who seem to have no one who cares. It is a bummer. We all need to help kids prepare for lives challenges. Thanks for sharing1

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      teaches, thank you. It's a wonderful gift to teach kiddos how to thrive. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could bottle it and spread it to children everywhere! :) Glad to see you. -K

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful message and tips on how to help kids build resilience. It is a great trait to have when life's ups and downs hit you full force. Voted up!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Om, thanks for the great comment. Resilience may even be a life-long process :) Thanks for being here. -K

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      7 years ago

      Resilience is an admirable trait indeed. I agree it's not something that children genetically inherit, but something to gradually learn and develop throughout their adolescence.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      sandrabusby, Thank you for the great comment. Working with kids to have the characteristics of resilience can make their lives a whole lot easier. I appreciate you voting and sharing. -K

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 

      7 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Enjoyed your hub on resilience. We all need to be aware of how to help our children become more resilient these days especially. Voted up and shared.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      carter06, thank you for reading and voting. I appreciate your input. -K

    • carter06 profile image


      7 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is excellent stuff ksharp...great pointers for helping build resilience in votes to you & shared...cheers


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