Resilience makes us stronger

Resilience can be strengthened at any stage in life.

Resilience is adapting to or bouncing back from difficult times.1
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Childhood is the best time to build the basis of resilience, but it can be strengthened at any stage of life.2
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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
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Resilience can buffer the effects of Risk Factors like abuse, neglect, isolation and violence.
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Build Your Own Resilience

You can do a few simple things to help strengthen resilience:


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

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:4,5,6

Resilience starts with

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.

The examples of individual, relational, family, and community protective factors (below) work together to build resilience and increase the likelihood a person will experience positive outcomes, even if they experience severe adversity. 8,9,10,11,12,13

Individual Factors
  • Self-Efficacy – Perception of being able to overcome a challenge and/or reach a goal 
  • Strong Cultural Identity
  • Self-Regulation – Ability to control actions, behaviours, and emotional responses
  • Temperament – Individual’s behavioural and emotional responses to what is going on around them
  • Sense of Meaning and/or Purpose
  • Effective Coping Skills – Ability to react appropriately to adverse experiences
  • Problem Solving Skills
Family & Relational Factors
  • Stable and Supportive Relationships
  • Adequate Housing and Income
  • Stimulating Home Environment
  • Role Modelling
  • Connection to Positive Social Network
Community Factors
  • Safe & Connected Communities
  • Access to Services
  • Involvement in Community  
  • Mentors
  • Positive Relationships with Peers
  • Access to Extracurricular Activities
  • Positive School Environments
  • Quality Child Care
  • Economic Opportunities

1.Masten, A.S., Gewirtz, A.H., & Sapienza, J.K. (2013). Resilience in development: the importance of  early childhood. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

2.Alberta Family Wellness (2018). Resilience: Why do some of us bounce back from adversity better than others do? Retrieved March 15, 2018.

3.Benzies, K. & Mychasiuk, R. (2009). Fostering family resiliency: a review of the key protective factors. Child & Family Social Work, 14, 103-114. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

4.Child Welfare Information Gateway (2015). Promoting Protective Factors for In-Risk Families and Youth: A Guide for Practitioners. Retrieved March 26, 2018.

5.Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2009). Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships: Working Paper No.1. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

6National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (2019). Risk and Protective Factors. Retrieved March 15, 2018.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Protective Factors. 

8Zolkoski, S.M. & Bullock, L.M. (2012). Resilience in children and youth: A review. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2295-2303.

9National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working Paper 13.

10Ungar, Michael; Liebenberg, Linda (2008) Resilience in action: working with youth across cultures and contexts University of Toronto Press

11Afifi, T. O., & MacMillan, H. L. (2011). Resilience following child maltreatment: A review of protective factors. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(5), 266-272.

12Benzies, K., & Mychasiuk, R. (2009). Fostering family resiliency: A review of the key protective factors. Child & Family Social Work, 14(1), 103-114.

13Development Services Group, Inc., & Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2015). Promoting protective factors for in-risk families and youth: A guide for practitioners. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau.

14Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (2020). Resilience: Why do some of us bounce back from adversity better than others do?

15Alvord, M. K., & Grados, J. J. (2005). Enhancing resilience in children: A proactive approach. Professional psychology: research and practice, 36(3), 238.

16American Psychological Association (2020). Building your resilience.

17Center on the Developing Child Harvard University (2020). Resilience.