Topic 5 Building Resilience in Youth

Resilience is the ability to successfully recover during or after difficult times and manage your emotions. It’s also the ability to adapt and develop under challenging situations and even learn from them. Each person might be more resilient in specific situations than others and resilience might differ during different stages of life.

Since youth will come across many tough times and experiences challenges during their development, it is important to build resilience, by cultivating self-respect and developing social, organizational and positive thinking skills. Supporting a young person is crucial in building resilience. Parents, teachers, other relatives, friends and peers can play an important role.

Resilience derives from three features that can be concluded in 3 types of statements; I HAVE, I AM, I CAN


  • Trusting relationships characterised by unconditional love;
  • Relationships with healthy boundaries which lower the possibility of my dangerous behavior;
  • People who are role models to me;
  • People who want to empower me;
  • People in whom I can rely on when I need to.


  • A lovable and likable person;
  • Happy to do good deeds for others and show them I care;
  • Full of respect for myself and others;
  • Willing to take responsibility for my actions;
  • Confident that things will work out.


  • Share with others what scares or worries me;
  • Find solutions to challenges that I come across;
  • Hold back when I want to do something wrong or potentially hazardous;
  • Assess when it is appropriate to talk to someone or act;
  • Identify someone to help me when in need.
  • Resilience differs from coping. When someone is resilient it means that they find more easily new ways to overcome difficulties and achieve their goals. In order to achieve their goals they might take many, even hazardous chances, but this also means that they may have many opportunities to be successful and build confidence.
  • To bounce back from everyday difficulties and calamities such as disagreements with friends, school and sporting disappointments.
  • To bounce back from serious challenges and devastating events, like the death of a loved one, parents’ divorce, family illness and and/or bullying, especially when learning difficulties and disabilities or anxiety are present.

Self-respect – The ability to acknowledge their worth, be aware that they should be treated with respect, protect themselves from risky behaviors and defend themselves when being bullied.

Empathy, respect for others, kindness, fairness, honesty and cooperation – Being supportive, accepting, kind and honest.

Strong relationships – Having a strong, loving relationship with adults. If young people are feeling loved and supported by others they will treat themselves and others the same way.

Social skills – Social skills refer to the ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships, to effectively manage conflicts and cooperate with others. Being social and being part of social groups can boost the child’s sense of belonging and increase the possibility of creating meaningful and trusting relationships with people to whom they can fall back on when in need.

Being rational and positive – Remain calm and optimistic, even when difficult situations occur. Adults can cultivate this rational thinking by trying to directing the attention to facts, for example by asking questions like “From 1-10 how difficult is it?”.

Put things into perspective – Even if the child had a bad experience adults can explain that it doesn’t define their present or future.

Practice positive self talk with them – For example, if a child says, “I’m worthless because I am not good at basketball and my team is going to lose”, adults can help them rephrase that by saying “Maybe I am not the best player, but at least I am trying, and I will do my best for my team”.

Normalise going through difficult times – Adults can explain that going through rough times is a natural part of life. They can also share some difficulties that they have been through. Assure them that this difficulty will soon pass and will not be there forever.

Cultivate their problem-solving skills – Work with them to find the best possible solution to their problem. Through this, they will learn that they have the power to walk themselves out of challenging situations.

Promote emotion sharing – Help them identify what they are feeling and find the right words to communicate their negative emotions in a healthy way.

Be a good role model for them – Try to remain calm and confident, set goals and try to achieve them. Help youth to also acknowledge which their strengths and limitations are and identify their own goals and how to achieve them.

  • Find a hobby or activity that appeal to them and can help them alleviate negative feelings such as reading a book or watching their favorite show.
  • Spend time with supportive people.
  • Do a good deed and offer something to someone in need.
  • Find the positive side of each negative situation.
  • Exercise and spend time outdoors.

Question 1

Your child is really upset and disappointed because they are the worst volleyball player in their team  and fears that they will be the reason that their team loses at the next game.

You want to practice positive self talk with them and cultivate their problem solving skills in order to build resilience

Question 2

According to the self-determination theory, being rewarded for being good at something can lead to less autonomy.

True or False

Question 3

Claire had a fight with her friends because last night when they were at a birthday party her friends were drunk and were mocking her because she only drank a beer. Her mother tried to make her feel better afterwards because she knew how sad she felt. Which of these scenarios would it be best if her mother chose?

a) I know how you feel, good job though for refusing to get drunk! To reward you, you can stay out for longer this weekend. I’m sure this will make you feel less sad.

b) It must have been so difficult for you to confront them. I am proud of you that you refused to follow them to this unhealthy behavior. Would it make you feel better if we went out for a walk together?