Lexington High School

Reducing Stress and Developing Resiliency



Simply put, resilience is the capacity a child has to cope with and "bounce back" from both everyday stresses and significant adverse life challenges. Resiliency can be nurtured by fostering various internal protective factors (those within the child, i.e. developing a child's coping skills) as well as external protective factors (those involving the family, school and community, i.e. providing caring relationships, maintaining positive, high expectations and offering opportunities for meaningful participation).

According to Edith Grotberg, PhD, of the International Resilience Project, children can access three sources of resilience: "I am" is an internal source, the personal strengths, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs within the child (i.e. The child believes "I am lovable/capable"). "I have" is an external source, the supports and resources that child perceives they have (i.e. I have a parent/teacher who I trust and who care about me) and "I can" is a social source, skills the child uses in interacting with others (i.e. I can talk a problem out with a friend/parent/teacher).

In Raising Resilient Children and The Power of Resilience, Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein speak about having a resilient "mindset." Listed below, are ten guideposts parents can follow to promote child resiliency. They make the point that "mindsets" can be altered, and a resilient one, nurtured. Children can be taught to develop resiliency.

  1. Teach and convey empathy.
  2. Listen, learn, and influence in order to communicate effectively.
  3. To change your words of parenting, rewrite your negative scripts.
  4. Find ways to love your children that help them feel special and appreciated.
  5. Accept your children for who they are, and help them set realistic expectations and goals.
  6. Nurture islands of competence; every child must experience success.
  7. Mistakes are teachable moments.
  8. Help your child develop responsibility, compassion and a social conscience.
  9. Teach and emphasize the importance of solving problems and making choices and decisions.
  10. Discipline in ways that promote self-discipline and self-worth.

Additional Information

A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP, and Martha M. Jablow. Published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Science of Resiliency