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Paulette Chaffee Sheds Light on Resilience in Adolescents

Adolescent Resilience

Adolescence is often referred to as one’s “teenage years,” though cultural influence, along with personal, physical, and mental growth can cause this stage to start earlier and conclude later. According to speech therapist Paulette Chaffee, adolescence can be challenging for both children and parents. In this article, Chaffee explains resilience’s critical role in meeting those challenges.

What is Resilience?

A small wooden toy with elastic strings called a Thumb Push Puppet collapses with the push of a button and springs back to its original upright position upon release. This toy is an excellent representation of resilience. 

Resilience is one’s ability to recover or rebound from a setback in life or a challenging event. Like the wooden figurine’s elasticity, resilience involves the capacity to utilize inner strength to bounce back and continue forward regardless of the downturns in life. 

However, human resilience differs from the Thumb Push Puppet as it takes much more time and effort to foster and develop that inner strength. Those who lack resilience during challenging times might turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms or feel like the victim, harping on problems and staying stagnant, succumbing to the strain of becoming overwhelmed.

Understanding Adolescent Resilience

A resilient adolescent displays positive mental health development and has the skills to function capably and efficiently during stressful or unfavorable times. Being a resilient adolescent comes with conquering life’s challenges more productively and increasing the probability of better coping skills in adulthood.

Experiencing traumatic life circumstances at a young age does not deter adolescents from developing resilience. Common stressful situations that children and teenagers might live through include health issues, anxiety-triggering family relationships, or growing up in a poor or low-income household. Adolescents who can resist following the negative path of reaction despite being at higher risk to adverse effects will develop resilience skills. 

Adolescent Characteristics Affiliated with Resilience 

Child Trends research reveals that multiple characteristics have been associated with resilience in adolescents. These characteristics include well-balanced critical thinking, judgment, and social skills, being exceptionally talented in one or more things, manifesting a friendly, sociable, laid-back temperament, having self-confidence in abilities and decision-making, possessing strong religious or spiritual feelings and beliefs, and experiencing caring support given by one or more adults. 

Parents have an essential role in adolescents’ lives. Parents who keep communication open between themselves and their children and show support for their teenager’s journey to independence promote the development of self-confidence and self-worth. In the end, parental practices, and parents’ state of mental health shape and mold the emotional wellness of adolescents. 

How Adolescents Can Boost Resilience and Decrease Stress

Adolescents can increase their resilience skills by adopting a more optimistic thinking style. This “cup-half-full” mindset paired with stress-reducing activities such as regularly exercising, deep breathing techniques and meditation, or learning how to take a proactive break from stress-inducing circumstances can set any adolescent up for successful adaptability despite life’s challenges. 


Author’s bio: Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education. Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.


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