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Building Resilience

The start of a new semester can bring a variety of feelings, reflections, and concerns. For some students, it is a time to look back on their strengths and challenges during first semester and explore ways to make improvements, embracing a fresh start. For others, it is a time of doubt, low self-esteem, and stress over their ability to succeed. For parents, guardians, teachers, and all other sources of support, this can be a time to step in and work on building resilience with our students.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, who specializes in resiliency in children and youth populations, defines the concept as, “the capacity to rise above difficult circumstances, allowing our children to exist in this less-than-perfect world, while moving forward with optimism and confidence,”. Through resiliency, our students can take a difficult situation and come out of it feeling strong in their abilities and motivated to move forward. It provides them with the opportunity to understand that challenges in life hold a tremendous amount of growth and can be a building block for success.

When beginning this practice with our students, it may be helpful to reference Dr. Ginsburg’s “7 C’s of resilience”. The following is the framework for building resiliency and questions to ask yourself as you move into installing these concepts:

  1. Competence: When we notice what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we don't allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.
  • Do I help my child focus on their strengths and build on them?
  • Do I notice what they do well, or do I focus on their mistakes?

     2. Confidence: Young people need confidence to be able to navigate the world,                   think outside the box, and recover from challenges.  

  • Do I see the best in my child so that they can see the best in themselves?
  • Do I clearly express that I expect the best qualities (not achievements, but personal qualities such as fairness, integrity, persistence, and kindness) in them?

     3. Connection: Connections with other people, schools, and communities offer                   young people the security that allows them to stand on their own and develop                 creative solutions.    

  • Do we build a sense of physical safety and emotional security within our home?
  • Does my child know that I am absolutely crazy in love with them?

     4. Character: Young people need a clear sense of right and wrong and a                             commitment to integrity.   

  • Do I help my child understand how their behaviors affect other people in good and bad ways?
  • Am I helping my child recognize themselves as a caring person?

     5. Contribution: Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive           gratitude rather than condemnation. They will learn that contributing feels good               and may therefore more easily turn to others and do so without shame.   

  • Do I communicate to my child (at appropriate age levels) that many people in the world do not have as much human contact, money, freedom, and security as they need?
  • Do I teach the important value of serving others?

     6. Coping: Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be           less likely to turn to dangerous quick fixes when stressed.

  • Do I help them understand the difference between a real crisis and something that just feels like an emergency?
  • Do I model positive coping strategies on a consistent basis?

     7. Control: Young people who understand privileges and respect are earned                       through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a               sense of control.

  • Do I help them think about the future, but take it one step at a time?
  • Do I help them recognize even their small successes so they can experience the knowledge that they can succeed?


As we build resilience for our students, we must remember that it begins with the practice in ourselves. Moving into a space where we are keeping the 7 C’s in mind can not only benefit our youth population but can be a gift to us all. For more information and a deeper look at resilience please visit Dr. Ginsburg’s website by clicking here.


For any questions, thoughts, or concerns, the personal and academic counselors are always available.


Thank you,


Lexi, Heather, Robin and Anne