Resilience is the magic bullet that everyone wants to acquire – teachers want to help their children become resilient, politicians want to transform the country to make us resilient, corporates want their staff to be the best they can against all odds. Above all, parents want their children to be resilient and they, themselves, want to be resilient as they cope with the challenges of 21st-century parenting. But telling someone to be resilient does not make a person so. Just asking a person to be ‘good’ does not help them to be different. To make individuals resilient we need to offer skills and resources to help them think, feel or act differently.

Resilience and coping are linked in that resilience generally refers to the ability to be able to ‘bounce back’ despite adversity or setbacks and coping is what we do. Having good coping resources is a key way to contribute to personal resilience. It is an asset that can be acquired. Coping can be construed as what we think, do or feel and resilience is the outcome.

Research has focused on the best way to provide the core life skills to children, adolescents and adults, and how that is best achieved through coping. There is helpful coping and unhelpful coping, and that is true throughout the life span, whether we are four or 74. The good news is that the requisite skills can be learned. Once parents learn the helpful skills for themselves they model those coping skills as part of parenting practice and children learn to adopt them into their everyday lives. Families can develop a common language of coping, which is understood and practised both by parents and children.

Parents can help children develop coping capacity when facing difficult situations through modelling and teaching various coping activities through trial and error, being playful as well as serious or being able to laugh or cry, and being calm and relaxed. Each approach can be helpful. Other useful skills are developed through mindfulness techniques and being able to engage in conversations about fears and how to deal with them. There are lots of techniques to help children build resilience through coping.

Families Coping is a program to develop resilience and confidence in 21st-century parenting. It is a resource that details coping skills in a language that is common to both adults and children. The program includes a book that can simply be read or can be used as part of a training program. It focuses on the positive aspects of family relationships and offers skills so parents can help themselves and their children. 

Erica Frydenberg PhD 
Principal Fellow in Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education 
Author of Families Coping


Would you like to learn to train others in emotional resilience?

Erica Frydenberg is facilitating a one-day ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop in conjunction with the Australian Council for Educational Research in Melbourne on Thursday 12 November 2015. 

For more information, or to register, please visit: