Resilience: Facing Life’s Challenges


Every one of us will inevitably have difficulties and challenges as we go through life: we will fail tests, not make a team, have a sick friend or family member, will get sick ourselves. As we face life challenges we may find ourselves feeling sad, angry, tense or anxious, comforted by others and feeling cared for and supported and maybe even proud of how we have faced or bounced back from the challenge. Resilience is the ability to deal with life’s challenges and misfortunes. Is it something you’re born with or can it be learned and enhanced? A lot of our resilience is learned from those around us, our experiences and the attitudes and beliefs we develop as we grow up. Let’s look at a simple example:

A parent or caretaker is with a small child at the playground. There is a good chance if the child is young enough, they’ll fall, or bump something, or lose their chance at a swing. In each case, it’s likely that the child will start to cry, whine or have a tantrum. Some adults, will become extremely excited, they might scream or yell and in an agitated way pick the child up and aggressively look for injuries and hurry to get the child back home. Chances are the child will keep crying.

Another adult might quietly but swiftly move over to the child, check gently to see if there seems to be any injury, give the child a hug and reassuringly say everything is ok while putting the child back on their feet or in the swing and gets the child playing again. What do you think these different children will learn over time from these kinds of experiences?

Which child do you imagine will stop crying sooner? Most likely it will be the one whose parent/caretaker has responded calmly and quietly. What has been communicated in this interaction? The calmer parent has shared several messages with this small child:

  • Falls are inevitable but are not necessarily a big deal – is important to keep problems in perspective
  • If you are confronted with a problem you don’t ignore it – checks things out carefully but there is no need to get excited until and unless the problem is large
  • If you’ve assessed a problem and it does not seems terribly serious – go on with life/keep moving forward – no reason you can’t continue playing
  • Keeping a calm, positive attitude helps everyone involved
  • Having others around who care about you helps you feel safe and secure
  • The world is basically an ok place but you still might fall sometimes

Of course throughout one’s life, problems are sometimes going to be more severe, disruptive and long-lasting than falling in the playground (Coping with Grief and Loss and helpful resources). But you’d be surprised how powerfully these basic attitudes can carry over into your life as an adult.

Take this quiz to learn how resilient you are: SCoRE My Resilience Factors Assessment


SCoRE® (Student Curriculum on Resilience Education®) helps students identify and adjust to the personal, social, and academic challenges of college life, including time management, staying healthy, making new friends, and goal setting. By building and supporting resilience, SCoRE teaches college students how to keep going in the face of adversity, a critical skill in school and life.

A key self-assessment in the SCoRE curriculum, My Resilience Factors provides a quick, easy method to learn how resilient you are. In 10 minutes or less, you can complete the assessment and receive a personalized report that identifies your overall level of resilience as well as the specific factors that strengthen and potentially weaken your resilience.

Was your resilience score lower than you’d like? The good news is that resilience is a skill that can be developed with practice. If you want to learn more about resilience, you can purchase SCoRE: Self-Paced or SCoRE: Propel, which offers additional content geared toward students seeking disability services in college. Use promotion code JEDSCORE when ordering.

SCORE SCORE propel

Want to hear more from Set to Go? Get updates about Set to Go and other JED news.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from The Jed Foundation (JED). View our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Contact Information.

Go to Video...