Knowing how important resilience is to our lives, we surely want people we love to be more resilient. Parents and others who care about children may be interested in knowing what research has found on 4 family dynamics that can help adolescents build resilience.

1. Consistently enforced rules. Although too much discipline can put unnecessary pressure on kids, having house rules can help everyone in the household stay calmer. When there are clear and consistent rules, kids will develop a sense of responsibility. They know what is expected, so they cannot blame others if they break the rules: they have to find their own strategies for dealing with challenges and temptations. Over time, it becomes more natural for them to find resolutions when facing adversity than to rely on others to help or to keep them out of trouble. It is important that rules be consistent and that parents follow them too.

2. Respect for individual autonomy.  Allowing adolescents to have proper personal space will help them feel respected and build resilience. When kids are given autonomy, they see themselves as being in charge of their lives. This allows them to develop independence and a sense of responsibility, which are strongly related to resilience. This may seem risky to a parent who is afraid that your kids may make wrong decisions and be hurt. However, there is another way to think about it. Although making a wrong decision can bring unnecessary hardships, it can also be seen as an exercise–a chance to practice resilience skills and build “change muscles” that will be useful in the future. Facing adversity is not always a bad thing. Being overprotective may not serve the best for your kids because then, when they truly face obstacles, they are less likely to be resilient.

3. Personality. Personality also plays an important role in resilience. For example, adolescents with a high internal locus of control, or the belief that they are in control of their lives rather than at the mercy of fate, may find it easier to develop resilience. Although this aspect of resilience-building is not directly related to family, the environment kids grows up in is crucial to how they think and behave. Their personalities are shaped by what they see around them. Therefore, as parents, it is important to act as role models. If you consistently display resilient behaviors in front of your kids, then they are likely to act in those ways too.

4. Supportive network. The last element found to be related to adolescent resilience was the environment they are in–the community that surrounds them.  More specifically, the support they can get from people around them contributes to the development of resilience. Getting support is different from depending on others to resolve problems. When there is a loving environment, the kids will feel accepted and thus become stronger. Then, they can be more optimistic about the challenges they face and can overcome them more easily. Therefore, if parents choose to live in a community with a highly supportive network, it can help their kids build resilience.

If you are interested in reading the original journal article, here is the information page.