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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Raising resilient young people

Using the 7Cs model to help raise resilient young people in our lives

I was recently struck by an article listing the top skills looked for by today’s employers – top among them are communication, leadership, teamwork, interpersonal, self-management and problem-solving skills. Yet, these have historically not been given nearly as much prominence in our schools’ syllabuses as the more conventional academic skills. So how do we raise well-rounded, healthy and balanced young people who contribute positively to the workforce and society at large? How do we help them develop the skills they need to bounce back and learn from adversity along the way? In other words, how do we raise healthy, resilient young people?

As parents, however much we may want to, we can’t protect our young people from every possible adversity in life. We can, however, prepare them by supporting them to develop the strengths of character and human connection that allow them to thrive in the good times and come through the challenging times stronger and more resilient, through learning important life skills. After all we want our children to become their best selves, to experience healthy relationships, to contribute to community and to succeed in life.

One of the most important resources we can provide young people is unconditional love. Young people thrive if they know that there’s at least one person who has their back and provides unconditional support. Letting young people know that they are seen and loved no matter what is vital. This is a powerful foundation on which to build the 7 C framework – this model was first published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2006. Each “C” is an important element that we can support in our young people - they are all interrelated and form a network of resilience-building strategies.

So what are the 7 Cs?


As adults we can notice and praise real effort, rather than giving only praising achievements, or giving unearned praise. We can also nurture skills, including having a growth mindset, allowing our young people to see failure as an opportunity for self-growth rather than a disaster. Remember our end goal is to raise confident young people who believe in themselves.


As adults, we can teach and model effective competencies. For example, we can offer a supportive listening ear as they work through solutions to problems or support their ability to manage school, relationships and their peers. The key is to talk with them and empower them to problem solve and find their own solutions rather than racing in to solve all the problems for them.


Real connection with our young people – seeing who they are and accepting them fully – has been shown to be a powerful protective force. Set aside time to spend with your young people, getting to know the individuals they are becoming. (A weekly family meeting, free from digital tech, is a great place to start). It’s also important to model real nurturing human connections as well, so our young people really get the importance of human connection.


Notice and nurture our young people’s character strengths. We also need to teach, reinforce and model the character strengths we want to see in them – remember they are looking at us all the time, and our actions are more powerful than our words. Young people with strong core values make the strongest contributions, have the best sense of self, and have the most secure and healthy relationships. So what values and morals are important to you as a family? It’s a lovely idea to put them on the wall where everyone can see them!


Give young people an opportunity to contribute and make a difference. In the end, we all want to have a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, and that includes our young people as well. Encourage them to get involved in their community, volunteer their services and help others in need.


As adults we can model and teach our young people a range of healthy coping strategies, so they make wiser, more self-affirming and healthier choices during challenging times. The practice of self-care and mindfulness is a great tool here – just noticing what feelings and emotions are arising and taking a pause to intentionally respond with the best response in the moment, while being kind and compassionate to yourself.


Parents who support the development of a healthy sense of control in young people understand that it’s important for adolescents and teens to have some control over their lives, but that privileges are earned with demonstrated responsibility. Let young people demonstrate responsibility in the home by actively doing age-appropriate chores, helping to prepare their own meals, getting their school things ready each day, completing assignments on time or by looking after their things and putting them away responsibly. In addition it's important to remember that discipline is about teaching, not punishing or controlling;. We can use positive discipline to help our young people understand that their actions produce certain consequences.

See how you can start incorporating the 7Cs principles into parenting your young person, and watch them blossom into amazing young adults.

Be well,



Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at

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