About Resilience

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to "bounce back" from life's inevitable pressures and hard times. It helps us handle stress, overcome childhood disadvantage, recover from trauma and reach out to others and opportunities so we can grow and learn.1

"Resilient" people have been shown to have happier relationships and are less prone to depression, more successful in school and jobs, and even live healthier and longer lives.2

Resilience can be learned and shared

Substantial evidence confirms that thinking and coping skills that promote resilience can be learned. More than 30 years of systematic research on preventing depression and promoting resilience at the University of Pennsylvania and other university centres has shown that these resiliency skills can be effectively taught to children eight years and older.3

Further research conducted by Reaching IN...Reaching OUTᴼᴹ (RIRO) demonstrates that these skills can be adapted and introduced through modeling and child-friendly activities with children seven years and younger with positive outcomes.

Why some people "bounce back" and others get stuck

Studies show that the way we think about life's challenges can affect our ability to cope with them. Furthermore, we tend to develop "thinking habits" that can help or hinder our response to stressful situations. 

People who can think about a situation flexibly and accurately are better able to identify the root of the problem and find options to deal with it. Challenging our thinking habits helps us develop our flexibility and accuracy and thereby supports our resilience.4

Two children embracing

Role Models of Resilience

As anyone who spends time with children knows, children love to mimic the adults they are in relationship with. They learn by watching us. Research shows children as young as two copy the coping and thinking styles of adults around them.5 Whether we are aware of it or not, we become role models for kids when we deal with life's stresses and opportunities.

When stress gets the best of us, children learn to lose patience and perspective, to misplace blame and to imagine the worst. When we cope well, children learn valuable resiliency skills like calming down more easily, being more empathic and helping others, being more confident and persevering, and finding alternative ways to deal with problems. RIRO helps adults become positive role models and teaches them special child–friendly activities that fuel children's resiliency skills.


Masten, A.S. & Coatsworth, J.D (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53 (2), 205–220; Werner, E. & Smith, R (2001). Journeys from Childhood to Midlife: Risk, Resilience, and Recovery. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Reivich, K. & Shatté, A. (2003). The Resilience Factor: 7 factors for overcoming life’s hurdles. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

3   Reivich, K. & Shatté, A. (2003). The Resilience Factor: 7 factors for overcoming life’s hurdles. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.; Seligman, M.E.P. (1991). Learned Optimism. New York: Pocket Books.; Seligman, M. E. (2007). The optimistic child: A proven program to safeguard children against depression and build lifelong resilience. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Reivich, K. &  Shatté, A. (2002). The Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Inevitable Obstacles. New York: Broadway Books.

5Seligman, M. E. (2007). The optimistic child: A proven program to safeguard children against depression and build lifelong resilience. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


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