Building Blocks of Resilience Briefs

During times of stress and when normal family life seems to be turned upside down, it may be helpful to turn to how experts identify the multiple ways that families are resilient. Broadly speaking, family resilience is the capacity of the family to adapt to challenging situations in the face of adversity. It is not necessarily a trait of any individual in the family, like being optimistic under stressful circumstances, but is the coordinated efforts of family members to draw upon resources (both material and psychological) to aid in building capacity for resilience.

These briefs offer families resources that can be used to reinforce existing coping strategies as well as new ideas to face challenging circumstances.

Family Activities and Resilience 

Scientists conducting research consistently find that families that spend more leisure time together tend to feel closer, report better communication, and are more satisfied with family life. Being intentional in planning time together and being willing to try different kinds of activities are just a few ways families can become closer and thrive as a unit. 

Access the resource sheet   
Family Activities and Resilience (English)

Resource Sheet: Executive Function Strategies and Resources 

Executive functioning (EF) skills are the things the brain does to plan, organize, and execute a task. Rather than focusing on academics, consider structuring your child's summer to target EF skills. Executive Function Strategies and Resouces contains EF tips families can implement today to create a summer of calm. 

Access the resource sheet   
Executive Function Strategies and Resources (English)

Cooking in Times of Stress

Despite its advantages, cooking regularly at home is hard, even in the best of times. The latest brief in our series, Building Blocks of Resilience: Cooking in Times of Stress, gives readers easy-to-implement research-based strategies and resources families can adopt today to help them cook more regularly at home.

Access the brief  
Cooking in Times of Stress (English)

Mindfulness Part 2: Techniques and Practices

Part two of a two-part series, Mindfulness Part 2: Techniques and Practicesgives you highly scalable, all-ages mindfulness techniques and practices that you can implement today. Hand-breathing (see the link to the PDF guide below), body scan mediation, poses, and more can be found in this evidence-based brief. 

Access the brief  
Mindfulness Part 2: Techniques and Practices  (English)
A guide to the mindfulness practice of hand breathing 

Mindfulness Part 1: Benefits and Misconceptions

Many studies evidence the benefits of mindfulness for children, adolescents, adults, couples, families, pregnant women, older adults, and people experiencing mental and physical health challenges (e.g., pain, addiction, anxiety, and so on). Mindfulness occurs when one lives in the moment, without distractions or attachments (positive or negative) and with acceptance. Attending to one’s breath is one way to practice mindfulness. Part one of a two-part series, Mindfulness Part 1: Benefits and Misconceptions, describes the benefits of implementing mindfulness practices into your daily routine while clearing up common misconceptions.

Access the brief
Mindfulness Part 1: Benefits and Misconceptions (English)

Six Ways to Build a More Resilient Couple Relationship

The benefits of maintaining a healthy and strong couple relationship impact individuals’ physical and mental health, children in the home, and the broader community. However, as many couples have experienced, maintaining a healthy and strong couple relationship can be challenging. This brief helps couples by providing research-based tools and resources to create a more robust relationship. 

Access the brief
Resilient Couple Relationships.pdf (English)

Responsive Feeding

Children are not born knowing how to eat adult foods; they must learn. Caregivers play an important role in helping children develop food preferences, eating habits, and behaviors that build the foundation for lifelong habits. 

Access the brief
Responsive Feeding.pdf (English)

Talking to Your Kids About Racism

Children as young as three recognize and develop racial attitudes and biases. This brief provides parents with developmentally appropriate tools to help them talk to their kids about race and racism.

Access the brief  
Talking to Your Kids About Racism.pdf (English)

Family Traditions & Celebrations 

Within a family, traditions and celebrations help infuse meaning, cohesion, and solidarity into family life. For a family, these activities can help connect us to our past, our community, and perhaps most importantly, to each other.

Access the brief  
Building Blocks Family Traditions Celebrations.pdf  (English)
Tradiciones Familiares y Celebraciones.pdf (Spanish)

Cooking with Kids 

Being involved in meal preparation and cooking together is related to stronger family relationships and greater mental wellbeing in children and youth. Children as young as three years of age, as well as older children and adolescents, can all participate. 

Access the brief
Building Blocks of Resilience - Cooking with Kids.pdf (English)
Cocinando con los Niños.pdf (Spanish) 

Physical Activity During Times of Stress  

Being physically active has an effect on your body and brain. When you are physically active, your body is more likely to increase the production of endorphins that send positive messages to your brain. Sometimes referred to as a “runner's high,” these changes in your body’s chemicals can happen at low levels of exertion as well as moderate levels of activity.

 Access the brief
Physical Activity During Times of Stress.pdf  (English)
Actividad física durante momentos de estrés.pdf (Spansh)

Healthy Relationships During Times of Stress  

There is a wealth of scientific evidence that shows that stress has a damaging effect on close relationships. In particular, economic uncertainty, increased parenting demands, and decreases in leisure activities can create a negative relational environment. But there is good news in that there are multiple ways that couples, parents, and teens can cope that aren’t expensive or require special equipment.

Access the brief  
Building Blocks Healthy Relationships.pdf (English)
Relaciones Sanas en Tiempos de Estrés.pdf (Spanish)

Family Routines 

Maintaining regular routines provides a sense of order to daily life. It lets everyone know when the day begins, what activities will occur when and where, and what role everyone is expected to play. There are at least three family routines to maintain: bedtime and sleep, mealtime, and physical activity.

Access the brief 
Building Blocks - Family Routines_working links.pdf (English)
Rutinas Familiares.pdf (Spanish)

Additional Resources

Podcast: The Role of Resilience in the Face of COVID-19 Featuring Ann Masten, Ph.D.

This podcast, featured by the American Psychological Association (APA), addresses how the COVID-19 pandemic is putting new and unforeseen pressures on all of us. Whether it's trying to telework while the kids are streaming in another room or dealing with the loss of a job, this new normal is taxing our inner resources. Ann Masten, Ph.D., a professor in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, has spent more than 40 years studying human resilience.

Tips for Managing Children's Media Environment and Exposure to Advertising

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our communities, children are transitioning to distance learning and spending more time in front of screens. While technology allows us to connect with others, increased media use may expose children to more advertising through social media, apps, and other online spaces. Former FRC Affiliate Gail Ferguson, Ph.D., provides information for parents about media literacy and resources to help parents guide media use.

New Partnership with Purdue University:  Families Tackling Tough Times Together

Families Tackling Tough Times Together is a new Facebook group ( and community of support helping families strengthen their resilience while coping with a multitude of challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every week, new materials and activities that focus on a specific aspect of resilience will be released. Families with children, youth, young adults, and older adults will find materials tailored for them.  All are welcome; we especially welcome military families. This program is led by Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences with contributions from partners at Purdue and across the country, including the Family Resiliency Center.