For Parents

Resilience Theory

What is resilience?

The Rubber Ball and the Baked Potato.

Imagine you have a rubber ball and a baked potato sitting on a table. Two round objects, side by side. Just sitting there peacefully. Now imagine that you pick them both up and throw them to the floor.

What happens to the ball? As it hits the ground, it flattens out on the bottom. Then it becomes round again and flies up into the air. It might even go higher than the top of the table where it was sitting. That’s resilience. The ball recovers from being thrown to the floor, and bounces forward. But what about that baked potato? It hits the floor, gets flatter and squished, and doesn’t bounce back at all.

But People are not Baked Potatoes.

No, they’re not. They aren’t rubber balls either. But people can be resilient, like the rubber ball, or less resilient like that poor baked potato.

You might be doing fine, going about your life and minding your own business. Then – whomp – something bad happens. You lose your job. Someone you love dies. You develop health problems. It’s a lot like a ball or baked potato being thrown on the floor.

Recovering from those experiences isn’t easy. But some people are like the hard rubber ball. They go through the hard time and then bounce forward and make their lives better.  Others are like the baked potato. They get stuck at that low point.

The people who are like rubber balls have more resilience. Resilience isn’t really something you are born with. It’s something you develop throughout your life. Parents can do a lot to help their children be more resilient. So can programs and activities like the ones in The Resilience Project.

Scientists have found some things that help children be more resilient. Here are some of them:

  • Knowing that at least one person loves them unconditionally
  • Having good relationships with other adults
  • Having friends
  • Enjoying music, art and other creative activities
  • Volunteering or doing things to help others

So what is this Resilience Project?

The Resilience Project brings together programs and activities for kids and families that can help children who have been through some hard times be more resilient. Children are all different, so some will get more out of a music program and others might get more out of a program to help kids make friends. We are working with other organizations in the community so that more programs will be possible.

Why all the Questionnaires?

Maybe your kids have done some programs, and like them. But why do parents and sometimes kids get asked so many questions?

We’re glad you asked! Those questions – and your answers – are part of our research program. The Resilience Project is doing is trying to learn more about what helps and what doesn’t. Asking these questions helps us to know what is working – and what we should change.

Bouncing Forward

Nobody can promise there won’t be hard times in your children’s lives. But getting them involved in The Resilience Project’s programs will help them bounce forward, just like the rubber ball. 


You can learn about our findings from the first two years of The Resilience Project by watching the video below: