How Resilience Helps Protect Children

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of ‘resilience’ is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” The American Psychological Association (APA) refers to it as “bouncing back from difficult experiences.” For several reasons, it’s an important tool for children to have in their repertoire.

“The hallmarks of a resilient child include knowing how to solve problems or knowing that there’s an adult to turn to for help. A resilient child has some sense of mastery of his own life, and if he gets frustrated by a mistake, he still feels he can learn from the mistake.” – Robert Brooks, clinical psychologist, Harvard Medical School

Everyone can be considered resilient, to some degree. We are all capable of recovering from stressful events, whether physical, like an illness, or social. However, some people are more resilient than others. Scientists have been interested in those who possess high levels of resilience, in order to help others improve their skills. Thus far, their findings have been interesting.

Part of resilience is believed to be genetically based. In one study, scientists found that triggering a certain chemical in the brains of mice protected them from developing depression following a stressful event. They’ve noticed that this chemical is depleted in people suffering from depression. In addition to increased susceptibility to developing depression, difficulty coping with stress can extend into adulthood and lead to increased health problems, shortened life span, as well as decreased job and relationship satisfaction.

Resilience is largely determined by the environment in which a child is raised. Particularly, APA cites “having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family.” In these relationships, children learn to love and trust, are provided role models, and offered encouragement and reassurance. Psychologist Michelle Slone also describes resilience as the ability to mobilize appropriate support, attribute meaning to the traumatic experience that triggers stress, develop self-efficacy and problem-solving skills and improve self-esteem.”

Thankfully, now that we know resilience can be taught, caregivers can use proven strategies to foster resilience in themselves and their children in order to buffer the impact of life stressors. These strategies are available in depth when you Read More.

Read More: Building Resilience in Children

Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers

Resilience for Teens: Got Bounce?

For Adults: The Road to Resilience

Image: jscreationzs /



About Traci S. Williams-Nurse

Dr. Traci Williams-Nurse is a licensed psychologist who specialized in child, adolescent and family psychology. Her interests include child development, family functioning, video games and food. She was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
This entry was posted in Mental Health, Stress, Trauma and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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