Resilience makes us stronger

Resilience can be strengthened at any stage in life.

“Resilience emerges from multiple processes. It’s not one trait; it’s not one thing. There are many systems that contribute.” ~ Ann Masten. 1

Resilience is a person’s ability to successfully adapt to adversity and maintain their wellbeing. 2

Although childhood is the best time to build the basis of resilience, it can be strengthened at any stage of life. 3

Resilience isn’t something we develop alone. The connections we feel to family, friends, community, and culture are protective factors that work together to strengthen resilience. Resilience can buffer the effects of risk factors like abuse, neglect, isolation, and violence. Resilience is not something someone ‘has’ or ‘doesn’t have’.

Everyone has the capacity to be resilient when they have access to the right support and resources. 4,5,6

Protective Factors

These positive supports strengthen our ability to weather negative life experiences. Several factors encourage healthy development and build resilience in kids and adults:4
Resilience grows with: 4
  • Structure and routine
  • Supportive and nurturing relationships
  • A powerful identity and opportunities to make decisions
  • A sense of belonging – to your community, school, culture and/or religion
  • Social justice
  • Safe, supportive, and connected communities
  • Physical and financial wellbeing

It’s never too late to build resilience.

Although our brains and other body systems are most adaptable in childhood, resilience continues to develop across the lifespan. 3
Build Your Own Resilience

You can do simple things to strengthen your resilience: 

    • Learn about ACEs and be part of breaking the cycle.
    • Develop and maintain supportive healthy relationships.
    • Take care of yourself. Try to get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly. 
    • Volunteer in your community.
Build Resilience in Others

Healthy relationships are an essential part of resilience, especially for children. A nurturing and supportive relationship with at least one supportive adult is the most important protective factor for children to develop resilience and do well despite experiencing significant adversity. 

All adults have a role in helping children build resilience by making positive connections with them.

1. Steiner, A. (2014, September 17). Ann Masten: Children’s natural resilience is nurtured through ‘ordinary magic’. Minn Post.

2. Masten, A.S. (2014). Ordinary Magic. Guilford Press, New York. 

3. Center on the Developing Child. (n.d.). Resilience. 

4. Ungar, M. (2019). Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success. Sutherland House. 

5. Masten, A.S., (2014). Global perspectives on resilience in children and youth. Child Development, 85(1), 6-20. 

6. National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working Paper 13