Development of Resilience among Children
Submitted by: Saria Tariq
University of Central Punjab Lahore
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Life can be challenging and may include many stressful situations. Parents and children can feel overwhelmed by different things at different times like in stressful situations. Resilience is the ability to steer through serious life challenges and find ways to bounce back and to thrive.
Parents are the most important people to help build their children’s resilience. Children learn a lot by watching their parents. When parents cope well with everyday stress, they are showing their children how to do the same.
Resilience is a basic human capacity, nascent in all children. Parents and other care givers promote resilience in children through their words, actions and the environment they provide. Adults who promote resilience make family and institutional supports available to children. they encourage children to become increasingly autonomous, independent, responsible, empathic and altruistic and to approach people and situations with hope, faith and trust. They teach them how to communicate with others, solve problems and successfully handle negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Children themselves become active in promoting their own resilience.
Children need these abilities and resources to face many common — and some not so common — crises. When the International Resilience Project asked children and their parents around the world what adversities they had experienced, the answers were numerous. Among those difficulties experienced within the family, in order of frequency, were:
- death of parents or grandparents
- illness of parent or siblings
- moving, family or friends
- accident causing personal injuries
- abuse, including sexual abuse
- poor health and hospitalizations
- fires causing personal injury
- forced repatriation of family
- disabled family member
- parent’s loss of a job or income
- murder of a family member
In addition, children and their parents reported facing the following adversities outside the home:
- car accident
- adverse economic conditions
- illegal, refugee status
- migrant status
- property damage from storms, floods, cold
- political detention
- abuse by a non-relative
- murders in neighborhood
- unstable government
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Resilience makes a big difference in people’s lives. People who respond to hardships with resilience are:
- Healthier and live longer
- Happier in their relationships
- More successful in school and work
- Less likely to get depressed
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Many of the things that support healthy development in young children also help build their resilience. These things include:
- A secure bond with a caring adult
- Relationships with positive role models
- Opportunities to learn skills
- Opportunities to participate in meaningful activities
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Characteristics of resilient children includes
- A sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy, which allows the child to cope successfully with challenges.
- An active stance toward an obstacle or difficulty.
- The ability to see a difficulty as a problem that can be worked on, overcome, changed, endured, or resolved in some way.
- Reasonable persistence, with an ability to know when “enough is enough”.
- A capacity to develop a range of strategies and skills to bear on the problem, which can be used in a flexible way.
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Over the past five decades, researches has shown that children’s future are made considerably dimmer by exposure to multiple, chronically adverse conditions such as poverty, family dysfunction, parental illness or incompetence, abuse and physical health. Negative outcome of these condition include (Doll & Layon, 1998):
- Increased delinquent activity/ criminality
- Lowered measured intelligence
- Increased educational and learning problems
- Increased likelihood of physical and mental health problems
- Increase likelihood of unemployment
- Decreased likelihood of social competence
However, most of these same studies describe complex transactional relationships by which vulnerable children are protected against adult dysfunction through interplay among characteristics of:
- The child (e.g., easy temperament, achievement orientated)
- The caregiver (e.g., a desire to protect the child from burdensome family hardships)
- The environment (e.g., a high level of support from extended family, friends and other adults including those in schools)
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Protective factors may be organized into two groups, those pertaining to individual characteristics and those related to the context or environment (Doll& Lyon, 1998).
Individual characteristics Protective Factors
- Intellectual ability
- Positive temperament or easy going disposition
- Positive social orientation, including close peer relationships
- High self-efficacy, self-confidence and self0esteem
- An achievement orientation with realistically high expectations
- A resilience belief system or faith
- A higher rate of engagement in productive activity
Contextual protective factors
- A close, affectionate relationship with at least one parent or caregiver
- Effective parenting (characterized by warmth structure and realistically high expectations)
- Access to warm relationships and guidance from the extended family members
- Access to warm relationship and guidance from other extended family members
- Access to and relationship with positive adult models in variety of extra familial context
- Connections with at least one or a variety of prosocial organizations
- Access to responsive, high quality schools
|Risk Factors||Protective Factors|
|• Birth injury/ low birth weight
• Insecure attachment
• Poor social skills
|• Social skills
• Attachment to family
• School achievement
|• Poor parental supervision and discipline
• Parental substance abuse
• Family conflict and domestic violence
• Social isolation/lack of support network
|• Supportive caring parents
• Parental employment
• Access to support network
|• School failure
• Negative peer group influences
• Poor attachment to school
|• Positive school climate
• Sense of belonging/bonding
• Opportunities for some success at school and recognition of achievement
|• Neighborhood violence and crime
• Lack of support services
• Social or cultural discrimination
|• Access to support service
• Community networking
• Participation in community groups
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Why Assess Resilience?
- Resilience levels influence expected outcomes of many disorders.
- Resiliency skills can be taught as an intervention strategy.
- Patterns of strengths within the resiliency domain (mastery, relatedness, reactivity) can influence intervention goals.
- Victims of school bullying may respond differently depending on their resilience profile.
- Course of care may vary with resilience profile for children with adjustment reactions to divorce, loss, or other life events.
- Teens with posttraumatic stress disorder may respond differently depending on their resilience profile.
- Use together with any symptom based measure to obtain a balanced view of the teen.
- Behavioral observation
- Clinical Interviews
- The Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM)
The Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM) is designed as a screening tool to explore the resources (individual, relational, communal and cultural) available to youth aged 12 to 23 years old, that may bolster their resilience.
- Resiliency Scales for Children & Adolescents™ – A Profile of Personal Strengths
Resiliency Scales for Children & Adolescent was developed by Sandra Prince-Embury. The test was published in 2006. The age range for this test is 9 years to 18 years. The resiliency scale for children and adolescents can be administered in dividedly as well as in groups. Time required is 5 minutes for each scale. (Sandra Prince-Embury, 2006) (See Appendix A)
Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents is ideal for the clinical or school psychologist, social worker or counselor because it is
- Use separately, together, or in conjunction with any symptom-based measure to obtain a balanced view of the teen.
Child and Adolescent friendly
- Allows children to focus on strengths as well as symptoms and vulnerabilities.
- Results easily interpreted and discussed with adolescents, teachers and parents.
- May be used to start assessment to establish rapport and to initiate a positive helping relationship.
- Quickly screens for personal strengths.
- Normed with the Beck Youth Inventories-Second Edition, to link a Resiliency Profile with specific symptoms for more targeted treatment planning.
- Helps clinician generate and prioritize intervention strategies.
- Systematically benchmark and monitor responses to interventions in terms of strength enhancement as well as symptom reduction.
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The Cognitive Model
It refers to three components of experience in which a person can ascertain if his or her belief system is distorted. The individual’ unhelpful thoughts create negative feelings which lead to self-destructive behavior. Self-destructive behavior creates hindrance to achieve the goal. The cognitive model replaces unhelpful thoughts to helpful thoughts which create more positive feelings and then lead to constructive behavior (Leahy, 2003).
Essential Features for Resilience
The essential building blocks of resilience are confidence, competence, control, connection, character, contribution.
- Competence: When we notice what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we don’t allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.
- Confidence: Young people need confidence to be able to navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges.
- Connection: Connections with other people, schools, and communities offer young people the security that allows them to stand on their own and develop creative solutions.
- Character: Young people need a clear sense of right and wrong and a commitment to integrity.
- Contribution: Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive gratitude rather than condemnation. They will learn that contributing feels good and may therefore more easily turn to others, and do so without shame.
- Coping: Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be less likely to turn to dangerous quick fixes when stressed.
- Control: Young people who understand privileges and respect are earned through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a sense of control.
3 Resources of Resilience
I HAVE: The people who are more trusted, people who set limits and stop when there is danger, people who show things right by the way they do things, people who want to do things on my own, and people who help when sick, in danger, or need to learn (Grotberg, 1993).
I AM: Glad to do nice things for others, respectful for myself or others, willing to be responsible, sure things will be alright (Grotberg, 1993).
I CAN: Talk to others about things that frighten or bother, find way to solve problems, control myself, find someone for help, and figure out when it is a good time to talk to someone or to take action (Grotberg, 1993).
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- Time Management
Prioritize your weekly schedule as a student. Any educational/academic studies must come first, then extra curriculum activities, and then social life. Friends will want to hang out with you on the weekends, but they will understand if you explain to them that you need to study or catch up on college-related work.
List the exact due dates for events, projects, essays, and other homework. This will greatly help to alert when things need to be done by.
Set a time limit on how long you study for each class. Don’t go overboard on one subject and forget that several others to catch up on before going to bed. Also, don’t rush through studying; take time and concentrate.
Get at least 6-9 hours of sleep. If you have more or less sleep than you should have, you may start lacking in your coursework and become lazy because of the urge or want to sleep.
Think of how non-educational activities are affecting your schedule. If you are babysitting, compromise with the mother on set days and times that goes around academic life. If you cannot commit to your studies because of football practice, then you must take action. When something gets in the way, you need to drop it, even if it’s temporarily.
Don’t neglect your health. Just because you’re short of time doesn’t mean you should live on junk food. Try to get your fruits and vegetables every day. Remember to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Doing these things will support mental, physical and emotional function.
- Hidden Heart
The things that we keep hidden inside are our hurts, emotional pain, scars, and anger. Some people work extra hard to hide these feelings and might eventually physically hurt themselves or others if they don’t share their feelings with others.
This activity gives people the opportunity to share their pain and the anger they have hidden inside. When people start to deal with these feelings of anger before becoming destructive they can experience happiness in their lives once again.
Group Size 1 or more
Paper, Pens or pencils, Scissors, Thin pieces of ribbon, one small, and one large balloon for each person (not inflated),
Give each person a small balloon, piece of ribbon, paper, scissors and a pen or pencil. Explain to them that this balloon represents their heart and all of the pain, hurt and anger that can be found inside of it. Instruct them to cut slips of paper that are small enough to fit into the balloon, to write down their hurts and anger on these, and to then put the papers into the balloon and tie the balloon closed with the ribbon (do not blow up the balloon). These papers do not have to be shown to anyone.
Give each person one of the larger balloons and ask each person to put their “heart” (the smaller balloon) into the larger balloon. Instruct each person to blow up the large balloon and tie it shut. Tell them that they are to write on the outside of the balloon how they present themselves to others on the outside so that nobody can see the things that are hidden on the inside. Some people use humor to hide the pain; others always act confident even though they feel insecure and lonely. These are the types of things people should write on the outside of their balloon.
Once all of the balloons are written on, gather the group together and discuss what is written on the outside of the balloons. Challenge the members of the group to each share at least one thing they have written down on the outside of their balloon. Then ask each person to state if it is a good thing to cover up what is on the inside or if they would like people to know more about what’s going on in their life and if so to think of a way that this can happen. After this discussion, allow them to pop their balloons as a symbolic way of getting rid of all the walls and devices that they use to hide their pain.
After the balloons are popped, the hearts with the ribbons tied around them should remain. Challenge each person in the group to find someone in the next week time whom they trust enough to give their heart to. They should explain to that person what the balloon represents and why they want to give it to them; they should then let that person untie the ribbon to see what is inside. If possible bring the group back together a week later for a follow up group to find out who was able to find someone to give their heart to. Or simply challenge the group to read what they had in their “heart” to the group (Hiew, & Cormier, 1994) (See Appendix B).
- Play Compliment Game
Group size 6-25
Each student decorates an envelope and writes his or her name on the front. Next, have students write a nice comment about the personality (or character) of each of their classmates on individual strips of paper. Students deliver their compliments to each other’s envelopes. At the end of the activity, each student will have an envelope full of compliments about their character from their classmates. Have student hang envelope in his or her cubby, desk, or locker for added encouragement at times of stress, e.g., standardized testing, or dips in confidence (Segal, & Yahraes , 1988) (See Appendix C).
Enhance self-esteem, self-awareness, Self confidence
- The Magic Box
To enhance confidence and positive self-image.
Construct a “magic box” which can be any kind of a box with a mirror placed so as to reflect the face of anyone who looks inside. Begin the activity by asking, “Who do you think is the most special person in the whole world?” After allowing the child to respond, you may continue, “Well, I have a magic box with me, and you can look inside and discover the most special person in the world.” Give the individual a chance to look into the box after you ask who they think they will see (Wolin, & Wolin, 1993).
- Are you surprised?
- How does it feel to see that you are the special person?
- You smiled so big, like you are happy to see that you are the special person.
- The Ten Year Race & Plan for My Goals
To enhance competence and strength
Ask the children where do you want to be after 10 years from today? The child set his goal then the child will make short term goals to reach his long term goals. Short term goals include work goals, academic goals, and personal goals after then identify specific activities to achieve each goal (Wolin, & Wolin, 1993) (See Appendix D).
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