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What is Resilience?  

This starts a series on resilience in children and adolescents.  I thought I would start by talking about what resilience is as I’m not sure everyone is familiar with the word.  Resilience refers to the quality in people that allows them to do well and thrive, even when they are faced with difficult situations.

There are a number of things that contribute to resilience for children and adolescents.  Some of these are qualities that children possess naturally.  Others are things that children can develop or learn.  Still others are about the environments that children live in and the experiences they have available to them.

In this column I will be focusing more on the last two kinds of factors.  The emphasis will be on the things we can help children learn or the experiences we can provide that will help them better deal with difficult situations.  One thing I will mention now is that the quality of relationships children have with competent adults, both inside and outside their family, makes a big difference in their development of resilience.

If you are really interested in this topic and want to jump ahead and get more information, I would recommend you check out the Search Institute (  They have a lot of good information, some of which I will be mining for this column over the next months.

I learned of the Search Institute a few years ago when I reconnected with an old friend from High School who I hadn’t had contact with in twenty years.  It was interesting that we had ended up working in similar fields even though we had no contact for such a long time.  I have a good deal of respect for the Search Institute’s work and am happy to recommend them to you.