Knowledge and Resource Hub
08 April 2019

Supportive relationships and active skill-building strengthen the foundations of resilience

This research examined why some children are resilient  despite serious hardship and  discussed the implications of these findings for the development of more effective policies and programs to provide support for families to help more disadvantaged children reach their full potential. Resilience results from a dynamic interaction between internal predispositions and external experiences. Resilience is seen in how the brain, the immune system, and genes respond to experiences during development. A large body  of research has identified a common set of factors that predispose children to positive outcomes in the face of significant adversity. These factors encompass strengths that derive from the child, the family, peer and adult relationships, and the broader social environments that build and support sturdy brain architecture. Learning to cope with manageable threats to our physical and social well-being is critical for the development of resilience. Some children demonstrate greater sensitivity to both negative and positive experiences with more extreme biological responses. Resilience can be situation-specific, so individuals may be resilient to one type of adversity but not necessarily to another. How individuals respond to stressful experiences varies dramatically, but extreme adversity nearly always generates serious problems that require treatment. The capabilities that underlie resilience can be strengthened at any age.