Can we teach resilience?

Is it possible to teach resilience? I guess it depends on what we think ‘teach’ means, i.e. direct instruction vs facilitation vs guidance, etc. Whatever. I think there is more consensus that resilience can be learnt….somehow.

As a mum, I think resilience is one of the most important things my daughters ought to learn. I have a professional and personal imperative to know how to teach resilience. Previous advice and research have taught me to expose my kids/students to challenges/difficulty and failure; easier said than done, at home and at school. Still, it seems to work (at home, at least) and my daughters are fairly resilient (lucky me!) BUT not so much when it comes to school stuff.  We’ve had plenty of dramas on this over the years (“I’m stupid; I’m dumb; I’m no good at Maths…).

Whatever happens at school, at the end of the day, us parents have to help our kids deal with it. Likewise as teachers, we can perhaps help our students learn resilience.

@anniemurphypaul wrote Tough as a drill sergeant (apropos, it’s worth subscribing to her posts….do it) with strategies that make sense and are easy enough to remember.

Think like an optimist.

Optimists see setbacks as “temporary, local and changeable”.  This phrase appeals to me far more than related clichés: Think positive, Don’t sweat the small stuff, This too shall pass and I dare say: Keep calm and carry on.

Fight back.

Negative and disparaging thoughts will come so it’s important to know that one can and should fight back. Block them. Challenge their validity. Search for a different/positive perspective.

Be grateful and generous.

Find the good and be thankful.


I’m not so sure this would work but I’m willing to give this a go. With my kids. With my students.  I love that the strategies are action-oriented, concrete vs. abstract.

I wonder, is resilience context-specific and how can it be made transferrable?

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