Have you ever noticed that some people seem to handle a crisis with ease, or adapt well to change and wonder how they do it? Resilience.

What do we mean by resilience?

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.”

Everyone will experience ups and downs throughout their lives. We cannot possibly prepare for or control every stressor, tragedy, loss or crisis that may come our way. What we can do is control how we respond to those events.

Why is resilience important and how does it help us?

That is where resilience comes in. It is not a personality trait, or something you are born with. Resilience is about thoughts, feelings and behaviors that can be learned, and can help you bounce back after facing adversity. For parents, building resilience in children is key to helping your child prepare for what the future may hold.

Podcast: The 7 C's of Resiliency

Kim LaFountain, LMHC, talks about why building resilience in kids is important to help them in all aspects and areas of life in a recent episode of Bradley Hospital's Mindcast.

Listen to The 7 C's of Resiliency podcast

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The seven Cs of resilience and how to build it in children

There are seven qualities that can help build resilience. By helping your child focus on those seven qualities, you can help your child become more flexible and more easily recover from life’s challenges.


The ability to effectively handle various situations; acquired through experience. Children cannot become competent without developing skills that allow them to trust their own judgments, make responsible choices, and face difficult situations.

To build competence:

  • help your child focus on his or her strengths and build on them
  • let your child make safe mistakes and have the opportunity to make corrections
  • avoid the urge to be over-protective, which could send the message that your child isn’t capable of handling a situation


Solid belief in one’s own abilities; the ability to face and cope with life’s challenges.

To build confidence:

  • point out and help your child recognize when something was done correctly or well
  • avoid causing your child to feel shame
  • do not push your child to take on more than he or she can handle


Close ties to family, friends, school, and community give children a solid sense of security that produces strong values; sense of connection prevents kids from seeking destructive alternatives to attention.

To build their sense of connection:

  • let your child have and express a variety emotions
  • address conflict within your family and work together to resolve problems
  • encourage your child to take pride in the religious or cultural groups that are important to your family


A fundamental sense of right and wrong that allows children to stick to their own values and demonstrate a caring attitude toward others; encourages sense of self-worth and confidence.

To build positive character:

  • help your child understand how his or her behaviors affect other people
  • encourage your child to consider right versus wrong and look beyond immediate satisfaction
  • be sure to recognize the importance of caring for others and serve as a role model for doing so


Understand that the child can make the world a better place. Gives children a sense of purpose and motivates them to take actions and make choices that will improve the world.

To help your child understand the importance of contributing to society:

  • stress the value of serving others and the concept of the greater good
  • model generosity with your time and money
  • find or create opportunities that allow your child to contribute in specific ways


Capacity to enact a wide array of positive, adaptive coping strategies protects against unsafe behaviors; children who learn to cope with stress are better prepared to overcome challenges.

To improve your child’s ability to cope:

  • learn positive coping strategies and model those behaviors to help your child adopt effective strategies
  • create a family environment in which talking, listening, and sharing are safe, comfortable, and productive


Children who realize that they can control the outcomes of their decisions have more trust in their ability to handle adverse situations. Children who see control as an external force become passive and pessimistic.

To help your child understand the importance of control:

  • help your child understand that many, but not all, events happen due to actions and choices
  • focus on taking one step at a time while still keeping the future in mind
  • allow children to make some decisions so they can learn control

By learning these behaviors and modeling them for your child, parents can instill resilience in children that will help them cope with all the curves that life may throw their way.

For more tips on children’s health and well-being, visit the Growing section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog.

Kimberly LaFountain, LMHC

Kimberly LaFountain is a behavioral education development specialist and Mental Health First Aid Coordinator at Bradley Hospital.