Kara Meyer, Ph.D. - Psychology Services
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RESILIENCE

This post is a part of a special series on building resilience in children.

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As much as we would like children to be completely care free, youth today do not lead stress free lives. They have busy schedules, homework to complete, and tests to take. They are trying to establish and maintain friendships, handle peer pressure, and possibly cope with bullying. Their families may move, parents may divorce, they may get sick, or they may have to cope with death. There is pressure from the adults in their lives, as well as from the media. Some may even experience serious trauma. The fact is stress and challenging circumstances are a normal part of growing up.
 
This doesn’t mean children are doomed – most thrive and become healthy adults. The reason is resilience. In short, resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks and adjust well to change. Resilience is important because those who bare this quality are more likely to be healthy, live longer, have positive relationships, and to succeed in school and work. They are also less likely to experience depression. While everyone is born with the capacity to be resilient, it comes more naturally to some than to others. Nevertheless, all children can learn to be more resilient. Many parents want to stay one step ahead of their kids to shield them from disappointment or discomfort, but the world doesn’t work that way. In reality, experiencing challenges is good for children because it helps them recognize and appreciate success, and to take joy in life’s pleasures. So, how can we help children build resilience?
 
Resilience comes from outside supports and internal qualities. Outside supports include having a secure bond and unconditional love from at least one caring adult, positive role models, opportunities to learn new skills and participate in meaningful activities, as well as having access to community resources. Internal qualities include being responsible and having good self-control. The ability to think critically and problem solve when confronted with unfamiliar situations, as well as the sense of self-confidence that they can. Additionally, having a positive outlook or being optimistic is also important. Those who are resilient also have a mindset that challenges are opportunities they can learn from and that will help them prepare for the future. Resilience does not mean being perfect or completely invulnerable.
 
Building resilience is a process – children will be more resilient at certain times and in certain situations than in others. Resilience requires ongoing support from parents and trusted adults, not nagging or harsh criticism. It also involves helping a child understand their strengths and not be afraid of their weaknesses. Helping children build resilience comes from a combination of factors, not one magic bullet. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss some ways to help children build resilience.
 
- Kara Meyer, Ph.D.


**The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other medical professional. This blog does not provide clinical advice, nor should its contents be considered clinical advice. Should you have any healthcare-related questions, please call or see your physician or other healthcare provider promptly.