We must tell children and teens "what to do" with the same conviction that we tell them "what not to do".

The 7 Cs: The Essential Building Blocks of Resilience

Bottom Line #1:

Young people live up or down to expectations we set for them. They need adults who believe in them unconditionally and hold them to the high expectations of being compassionate, generous, and creative.

Competence: When we notice what young people are doing right and give them opportunities to develop important skills, they feel competent. We undermine competence when we don't allow young people to recover themselves after a fall.    

Confidence: Young people need confidence to be able to navigate the world, think outside the box, and recover from challenges.     

Connection: Connections with other people, schools, and communities offer young people the security that allows them to stand on their own and develop creative solutions.    

Character: Young people need a clear sense of right and wrong and a commitment to integrity.    

Contribution: Young people who contribute to the well-being of others will receive gratitude rather than condemnation. They will learn that contributing feels good and may therefore more easily turn to others, and do so without shame.   

Coping: Young people who possess a variety of healthy coping strategies will be less likely to turn to dangerous quick fixes when stressed.

Control: Young people who understand privileges and respect are earned through demonstrated responsibility will learn to make wise choices and feel a sense of control.

Bottom Line #2:

What we do to model healthy resilience strategies for our children is more important than anything we say about them.


[The 7 Cs are an adaptation from The Positive Youth Development movement. Rick Little and colleagues at The International Youth Foundation first described the 4 Cs of confidence, competence, connection, and character as the key ingredients needed to ensure a healthy developmental path. They later added contribution because youth with these essential 4 characteristics also contributed to society.  The additional two C’s – coping and control – allow the model to both promote healthy development and prevent risk.]