Building Resilience

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Building Resilience


Parent Brochure

What is resilience and why build it?

The word ‘resilience’ is used to describe the capacity people have to cope, learn and thrive in the face of change, challenge or adversity. Some children and young people find it harder than others to cope with the challenges they face in life. However, all children and young people develop coping strategies to help them deal with stress and challenge.

There are things that families and schools can do to help build the resilience of children and young people, and to help them to develop positive coping strategies.

What are the key skills for resilience?

Self-awareness– understanding emotions and needs and being able to communicate them to others

Self-control– managing anger and anxiety and the expression of emotions

Social awareness– being aware of the needs and feelings of others, and building the capacity to respect those with different views or beliefs

Social management– developing the skills and confidence to talk and mix with other children and adults, and to work and play well with others

Responsibility– taking responsibility for a range of tasks, such as tidying up, doing their homework and helping others

Effort and persistence– understanding the importance of hard work and persistence

Hope– believing in the possibility of a good future and in the value of education

Self-esteem– feeling proud of the effort they make at school, and their efforts to get along with others, and to be part of the family

Problem-solving skills – building the capacity to think about how to deal with a range of challenges

Positive coping strategies – developing the capacity to cheer themselves up, calm themselves down, ask for help when needed, and to work out ways to solve a problem

What are the factors that influence resilience?

A range of risk and protective factors influence the resilience and wellbeing of children and young people:

Risk factors are the conditions or influences that increase the probability that an individual will experience negative health or learning outcomes

Protective factors are the conditions or influences that either have positive effects or help to reduce the impact of risk factors

Risk and protective factors occur at the level of the individual, the family, the school, and the community

One way to help children and young people to become more resilient is to help them build their protective factors, as in many instances it is not possible to remove risk factors.

Some examples of risk and protective factors at the individual, school, family and community level:

Risk factors

Protective factors:


  • Physical and intellectual disability

  • Poor health in infancy

  • Insecure attachment to carers in infant/child

  • Low intelligence

  • Difficult or sensitive temperament

  • Chronic illness

  • Feeling attached to family (feeling caring and cared for)

  • Above-average intelligence

  • Achieving well at school

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Belief that they can control their own behaviour

  • Social competence in relating well with others

  • Optimism or a sense of hope for a positive future


  • Family in poverty or economic insecurity

  • Parents unemployed

  • Homelessness

  • Death of family member

  • Caring for someone with illness/ disability

  • Divorce and family break up

  • Supportive caring parents

  • Family gets along well together

  • More than two years between siblings

  • Have some responsibility for helping at home

  • Supportive relationship with other adult


  • Bullying

  • Rejected by peers

  • Racism

  • Homophobia

  • Don’t feel like they belong or fit in at school

  • Inadequate behaviour management

  • Member of a friendship group that is often in trouble

  • Failing to learn

  • Truancy

  • Changing schools or school transition

  • Family/parents not interested in their learning

  • Negative relationship with teachers

  • Sense of belonging/connectedness

  • Friendly school

  • Has caring friends

  • Required responsibility/ helpfulness

  • Opportunities for success

  • Recognition of achievement

  • School does not accept violence or bullying

  • Interested in learning

  • Positive behaviour management

  • Positive teacher-student relationships

  • Collaborative teaching strategies where students get to work with each other

Why is feeling connected to school important?

Children and young people who feel cared for by people at their school and feel connected to learning are more likely to be motivated to work hard and to believe that they can succeed at learning. They are also more likely to do well in their learning.

Children and young people who feel connected to school and believe in the value of getting a good education are less likely to use alcohol or other drugs in a harmful way, to be violent or get into fights, are less likely to experience mental health problems like depression or anxiety and less likely to begin sexual relationships at an early age.

What is Building Resilience?

Building Resilience is based on research which highlights the importance of taking a multi-dimensional school-wide approach to building resilience. It assists schools to:

  • Partner with the school community, including families and local and community services

  • Lead activity across the school, orchestrating a comprehensive approach

  • Teach social and emotional skills to all students across all year levels

  • Support those young people identified as needing additional assistance

  • Refer those in need to appropriate services

Through addressing each of these components, children and young people will be supported to develop the skills they need to become balanced, happy adults.

The Building Resilience Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Materials A key component of Building Resilience is a suite of new SEL materials, available for all Victorian schools for year levels from Prep to 12. These materials are designed to support young people to develop key life skills, such as relationship building, help-seeking, and decision making, and help them to cope with the challenges around a range of complex issues such as relationships, emotions and stress. The materials cover six topics:

Emotional literacy

Personal strengths

Positive coping


Stress management


Parents and carers can support their children by talking at home about some of the ideas presented in the materials.

What can parents and carers do to support resilience building?

Establish a safe and supportive environment

Set clear rules and boundaries requiring respect and cooperation

Teach social and emotional skills

Role-model strong social and emotional skills

Set strong expectations about effort, attitudes and behavior

Encourage children to work hard at school

Create opportunities to help children learn to mix well with other children and adults

Encourage children to show respect and consideration for others

Give responsibilities so children learn how to help out and to contribute to others

Teach children important social skills and values

Give attention to positive behaviours in order to reward and reinforce them

linkblue.pngUseful links


Kidshelpline https://

Reachout https://

Beyond blue https://


Smiling mind https://

For further information, references and the evidence base, please see the Building Resilience in Children and Young People literature review (hyperlink)

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