Building resiliency in troubled youth

  • Dec. 12, 2012 5:28 p.m.

Everyday in the news we read about the tragic consequences of bullying, addictions, mental illness, family violence, abuse, assaults and sexual exploitation on our youth. In Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds.

In all daunting situations every parent wants to know ‘How do I protect my child? How does one youth find the inner strength to cope and another continue to struggle? Why do some children consider suicide? How do we build resiliency?

Resiliency is the ability to overcome the challenging events in our life and to function as well as before and eventually move forward. It is the ability to ‘bounce back’. It involves accepting all that life throws at us, learning from the good and the bad and becoming stronger.

Building resiliency is complicated as we are dealing with human beings. A protective factor for one person may be a risk factor for another depending on their situation, experiences and the circumstances.

However, these 10 positive characteristics can assist in developing healthy and respectful environments where children thrive and build the strength to adapt and grow.

1. Develop empathy – teach children to understand and sympathize with how others feel.

2. Good communication – teach children to become assertive communicators for win-win situations.

3. Strong problem-solving skills – teach children confidence in making good choices.

4. Dedicated to learning – teach children to be interested in school and increasing their knowledge.

5. Goal driven – teach children how to set goals and strive for them.

6. Involved in engaging and rewarding activities – teach children a sense of purpose and belonging.

7. Hopeful about the future – teach children that things change and will get better.

8. Solid relationship with one or more adults – teach children to build a support network.

9. Live in a safe community – teach children to feel safe and secure.

10. Live in a well-functioning family – teach children how to engage in positive relationships.

For those times our children are not feeling strong, be strong for them. Remember, there are agencies out there who want to help and support your families through the precarious life events that are cast at us. In Central Alberta you can find support at Suicide Information & Education Services. Call 403-342-4966 or email

Mary Dawn Eggleton

Youth Education Coordinator

Suicide Information & Education Services