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

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, to our community, and perhaps most importantly, to each other.

Access the brief  
Building Blocks Family Traditions Celebrations.pdf  (English)
Cocinando con los Niños.pdf ​(Spanish) 

Cooking with Kids 

Being involved in meal preperation 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 “runners 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, PhD

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, PhD, 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 is allowing us to conntect with other, increased media use may expose children to more advertising through social media, apps, and other online spaces. Former FRC Affiliate, Gail Ferguson, PhD, 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 to strengthen their resilience while they cope 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.