Resilience and mental health

Resilience is the ability to bounce back after an adverse event, and is a protective factor for children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Girl on monkey bars

What's resilience?

Resilience refers to the ability to manage everyday stressors and challenges. 

 Resilience enables people to shift back along the mental health continuum towards good mental health. A child or young person’s ability to be resilient can depend upon many things and can change depending upon their situation. Importantly, specific situations or events that one child or young person may find challenging, another may not. Learn more about how you can help build resilience in children.

A child or young person who is resilient might: 
  • be optimistic
  • use positive self-talk for encouragement
  • have a positive sense of self
  • identify and express their feelings and thoughts
  • not hide away from strong feelings
  • have helpful, age-appropriate strategies to manage their emotions when upset
  • rearrange their plans to work around an unexpected situation
  • have a sense of agency or responsibility
  • keep on trying if something doesn’t work out and use their judgment about when to stop
  • hold a sense of purpose or hope for the future
  • actively ask for help if they need it
  • feel a sense of attachment to family, their learning community and to learning.
  • Why is resilience important?

    Resilience is associated with better outcomes

    Resilience has been associated with better academic performance and behaviour and, longer-term, is associated with greater life opportunities (including employment and satisfying relationships).

    Children and young people need resilience to manage ups and downs

    Children and young people with greater levels of resilience are better able to manage stress. When children and young people learn to navigate these stressors, it supports their mental health and wellbeing now and into the future. 

    Ups and downs can range from everyday challenges like conflict with friends or falling off a bike. They can be emotional experiences such as loss, rejection, disappointment or humiliation. Some children and young people face serious challenges like disability, learning difficulties, family separation, family illness or death, or bullying. 

    Feeling optimistic and hopeful are key to mental health and wellbeing

    Children and young people’s resilience is enhanced when they:

    • are loved by someone unconditionally
    • have an older person outside the home they can talk to about problems and feelings
    • are praised for doing things on their own and striving to achieve
    • can count on their family being there when needed
    • know someone they want to be like
    • believe things will turn out all right
    • have a sense of a power greater than themselves
    • are willing to try new things
    • feel that what they do makes a difference in how things turn out
    • like themselves
    • can focus on a task and stay with it
    • have a sense of humour make goals and plans, both short and longer-term.
    Be You Professional Learning

    Learn more about how to incorporate practises that can enhance children and young people's into your teaching practice in the Learning Resilience domain.

  • References

    Cahill, H., Beadle, S., Forster, R., Smith, K., & Farrelly, A. (2014). Building resilience in children and young people. Melbourne: Melbourne University Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from

    Council of Australian Governments (COAG). (2009). Investing in the early years: A national early childhood development strategy. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from

    Department of Education and Training (DET) (2018). The early years learning framework. Canberra: DET. Retrieved from

    Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191.

  • External links


Learning Resilience


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