InDHSS: Employee Newsletter


August 2010


Building resiliency: A Protective Factor

By Shirley Pittz, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Manager

Have you ever noticed that some families experience the same turn of events as other families but react to them very differently? Have you watched co-workers hear identical news and respond in drastically different ways? Ever wondered how a friend made it through a really tough time and managed to go on with a positive attitude? Resiliency is a key factor. Resilience is the process of managing stress and functioning well even when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma. It is the ability to manage and bounce back when the going gets tough. Research has demonstrated that how we respond to a stressor is much more important than the stressor itself. Parents and children are more likely to achieve healthy, favorable outcomes if they are resilient.

So how do we help build resiliency in ourselves and others? Nan Henderson, MSW, President of Resiliency in Action, suggests the following:

  1. Communicate “The Resiliency Attitude.” “You have what it takes to get through this!”
  2. Adopt a “Strengths Perspective.” Rather than focusing on weaknesses and what a person can’t do — focus on existing abilities and capabilities. Notice them. Point them out.
  3. Surround each person — as well as families and organizations — with elements of “The Resiliency Wheel.” Care and support; high, but realistic expectations for success; opportunities for “meaningful contribution” to others; positive bonds and connections; clear boundaries; needed life skills.
  4. Give It Time. Building confidence, finding new ways to solve problems, building trusting relationships and knowing how to seek help all take time.

Families thrive when protective factors are robust in their lives and communities. Those five protective factors are parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need and social and emotional competence of children. Resilience is a protective factor that relates to all the others. Helping others believe in themselves can go a long way in supporting good decision-making and resolving problems.

For more information on the Resiliency Wheel and a fun, informative Resiliency Quiz see:



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