My daughter has a lot of trophies and medals and awards. This is a fact.

This fact has led some people in our circle to think that my daughter is “charmed”. That she snaps her fingers and accolades just appear, as if by magic.

I need to remind people that for every trophy, for every plaque, every medal, there are so many things that she didn’t win…

Maybe she has fifty wins…maybe she’s entered 1000 things…


She has lost 95% of the time…

Which means that 95% of the the time she has picked herself up, dusted herself off and went on to the next thing.

This doesn’t mean that she wasn’t upset by the losses- she has shed a tear, kicked a wall, screamed in frustration…she has shown emotion. She is upset every time she doesn’t get something that she wants.

But she doesn’t let that stop her.

People ask me how she became so resilient…

So, the question is…

Is it my skill as a parent?


Was she born this way?

Is resilience a learned or an innate behavior?

While I would LOVE to say that it’s my superior parenting skills that raised a resilient child, is it?

I do know that I have always told her that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. I’ve encouraged her to try out things even if they are out of her comfort zone. I know her singing voice is, let’s call it, average, so when she wanted to try out for glee club I helped her practice and encouraged her to go for it, even though I knew that there was no way she would be picked unless literally no one else showed up at the audition. I figured it was better to try for something you wanted instead of spending your life wondering if you would have made it.

Whenever she lost something, I would giver her a hug, ask her if she did her best, and then ask her what comes next.

Did I teach her to be resilient?

Or did I enhance something that was inherently part of her personality?

Even with all the encouragement in the world, would a different child act differently in the face of adversity?

So here’s the part where I ask your opinion:

Is resilience a personality trait or a learned skill?

66 thoughts on “Pick Yourself Back Up

    1. It’s funny, cause my friends that have resilient kids say it’s parenting, and my friends who don’t say it’s an innate trait. That’s how this blog was inspired…by someone saying I had it “easier” as a parent because my daughter was born with these traits

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Both! It takes personal experience to build resilience and it takes encouragement to help people step out of their comfort zone to build it too. If you are only ever exposed to it then it is normal in your reality where if someone steps in who has never been exposed to the same situation it is shocking! Then the next exposure is… oh, that is NYC reality, no big deal.😂

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  2. One of those questions that can be debated ad infinitum. I, of course go with learned behavior as your daughter was raised in an open, loving, encouraging environment with the attitude of anything is possible surrounding her. Your parenting only enhanced any traits she may have had to be strong and adaptable. I’m giving you the win on this one.

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  3. Intelligence (IQ), is largely inborn, but emotional intelligence (EQ) is learned, usually from our parents.

    In your daughter’s case, she has both, and thus, you may take credit for her successes and resilience. 🌷🌼🤗

    Liked by 3 people

  4. While I feel it’s a combination of things, what I believe is that you taught your daughter perseverance. AND for her not to be a quitter. Plus, you encouraged her to try! Those skills are taught. The other thing is that you modeled good parenting skills by instilling in her to just do her best. Now, a different child may have attempted a few tries, but perhaps not so many times. Obviously, your daughter is bright, relatively secure in her abilities, and doesn’t give up easily. That’s an innate skill she possesses. But your guidance is part of it too. So it’s shared. You both get an A in perseverance!

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  5. I’m in agreement that there is a combination at work here. She is being nurtured in an environment where she is learning that failure is not the end of the world and that seeking, and finding, her passion is worth the journey even if some of it ends in failure.

    I’m not sure if I have done this right with my family as I was born into a very conservative, ‘never rock the boat’ kind of environment. I second guess everything and beat myself up quickly. It was always ‘the better way’ to ‘not make waves’ or ‘watch out for consequences’ that may or may not appear. ‘Better safe’ was the way to go. I am not like this now. I want to push boundaries, but although I don’t necessarily aim to fail, I accept that I will fail and learn and then re-group so I can start again.

    I hope some of this rubs off on them at some point…

    I forge on with a newly found confidence and if failure happens, I keep at it regardless (especially if it’s writing related).

    And yes, you are an awesome parent. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My parenting is about 140 degrees away from how I was raised. My go for it attitude is in direct contradiction of my mother’s scorn for anything she didn’t deem desirable, and her attitude towards failure

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  6. Most likely she was born with the potential for a resultant nature but it is dormant until nurtured. Therefore it is learned behavior, not by what you said to her, but what you did as life knocked you down. She watched, she learned, and her potential was nurtured by your extraordinary example. Keep on, C

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  7. I’d say that it has to be a little of both. You have to have the potential first, but then you must be taught how to take advantage of that potential (this teaching doesn’t always come from the parent, though). You could be a phenom in underwater basket weaving, but if you’d never been exposed to it, then you never would know you had that ability. At the same time, you can be taught how to do underwater basket weaving, but still be utterly horrid at it if you didn’t have the basic skills or drive to do it. I’ve seen this play out in different ways over the years across all 3 of my kids. As a parent, we give our kids a basic tool box for life. Each kid chooses which tools to pick up and use, which to ignore, and which simply do not apply to them or are more than they can handle, and what tools to add to that box that other people have handed to them.

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  8. I feel like it’s both. Some are born that way but still need parents to give them that support and push. Then there are those that weren’t born resilient and need totala parent support. All of my kids are different and my youngest is the MOST resilient. That girl is something else.

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  9. I think what we do as parents can either set a good example or not.

    When I was 8 my family moved a couple hundred miles because of my dad’s job. Before we moved we were much closer to where both of my parents were raised–Chicago. My mom never quite got over the move and I think saw it as catastrophic. For me I don’t know if it was just coincidental but I remember life seeming much harder after that. I think for my dad over time he embraced things that were simpler about life after the move and didn’t see the move as catastrophic.

    My daughter won some awards and had a few smallish college scholarships. She certainly has had her struggles behind the scenes, but I know her high school teacher saw her as some who really tried academically and in regards to some service related projects she was involved in. They told me she was willing to step up for any project large or small whether it be showing a new student around school or volunteering at a nearby elementary school. My son was not the best athlete never was on the first string but always got compliments for showing up and putting in his best effort, especially for optional things like summer workouts. In some ways I think this was innate and not something I passed down.

    With my husband dying earlier this year I have tried to be mindful about not being over the top with my grief. My kids are grieving themselves and don’t need to see someone who can’t keep it together. Unfortunately they did see a messy house at times and a few bills paid late–but I have moved past this stage.

    Have been reading the book Atomic Habits to help carve out a new life and help me forge a new life. I would imagine people that are resilient have really made good habits a part of their life.

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  10. Your post reminded me of a book I read called “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth. I believe grit is innate and learned. As parents we can’t motivate our kids to do anything, it has to be internal. But we can encourage them and provide an environment that’s positive.

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      1. Yes, LA I think you can in a way. I was the oddball in my family who danced to the beat of a different drummer. Imagine being a vegetarian growing up in the 1950’s. Being opinionated in school. My parents didn’t get me at all BUT, they DID instill in me not to be a quitter. If I attempted something I knew I had to finish it, and I learned from that. And if next time I didn’t want to do something similar, at least I understood why. However, they also Impressed upon me that we had no choice when it came to certain things, like school assignments or social/ family responsibilities. So, I knew to be respectful of older people. My issues often came from school assignments where my creativity veered from the norm in the way I did class assignments. Only creative, multidimensional teachers “got” me. They thought I was awesome, but strict one dimensional teachers thought I deliberately tried to provoke them. That wasn’t true. History research projects often ended with a poem or a song I created, or a drawing. I was inspired and often certain elementary school teachers didn’t get my vision at all. It wasn’t until middle school when my 7th grade English teacher read an original poem I wrote and recognized I needed to be screened for gifted. ( it wasn’t called that back then), but once I was put in advanced classes teachers and fellow classmates totally understood where I was coming from.
        *So, back to your question. I could be instilled with organizational skills from now till the end of time and it won’t stick. UNLESS I am at work, being paid for a job, OR, something regarding my children or grandchildren .
        I know when it’s a must. It’s not my nature and not what I naturally do. But I am aware when it must be done. And I’m great at it when necessary. But I have to say I don’t like it. It’s so not fun for me. But as a teacher it was my job to be organized. So I had a file on every child, had parents sign and students sign for every project or report I assigned, and I gave them a copy and kept the original. So at conferences when parents would say, “ I didn’t know anything about that project “ I could pull out my data and document everything showing their signature and their child’s signature. I also printed out my reminder emails I sent home. I was over the top organized at work. So Yes, as long as we teach our children there is a time and place where they Dont have a choice in some things, then we raise responsible human beings. As a divorced single parent, I was mother and father. I couldn’t do my own thing. Not if I wanted to raise responsible children. So I did what was necessary. I even worked multiple jobs to pay for a roof our heads. In retirement I’m sooo disorganized, but not with my grandchildren. I keep them updated on age appropriate books, coding, computer games, word games etc. Even in the middle of chemo when I’m not having a vomiting day we will FaceTime and read novel’s together. So I thing it’s what people prioritize as being important. Or obsess about. It is so not my nature to be organized. But I’m not going to drop the ball when my behavior affects others. We need to teach our children that skill!


  11. This is one of my favorite subjects. I think some people are naturally resilient and others not so, but I also think that as parents, we have the responsibility to not give out too much praise. It’s great to give an ego boost, but elevating kids to stardom every time they do something small sets them up for disappointment later on. And it doesn’t teach them resilience. That can be crushing. Sounds like your daughter has two feet on the ground.

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    1. Well, praise is necessary for raising secure self assured children. Without praise children grow up angry or insecure. However, praise for something that is mediocre needs to be realist. ( This advice coming from a retired elementary school teacher). An example might be your child could be struggling in math. And the kid might not be getting good grades no matter how hard he or she tries. No praise at all is the worst thing they need. So you can say, “Good job, you got five more multiplication problems correct on your test today. I bet if you practice those flash cards you can increase your score next week. . (And then give the child a high five and a hug.) Even if the kid got a C or a D you acknowledged that he improved. No, you can’t say he did an awesome job. But, If a parent gives no praise or consistently criticizes him at every turn he will stop trying and give up. So we do need to praise our children (and students) truthfully and realistically, but still make them feel good about what they did accomplish.

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  12. It is good to be back here and I missed seeing your post. I always say that luck doesn’t exist, the harder your work the more luck you seem to have. People never see how hard a duck has to peddle under water, they only see the effortless elegant bird seemingly floating on the water, right? 🙂

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  13. A person has to have the resilience and patience inside them to learn that not everything will be easy. The resilience is hers, the telling to try again is yours.

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  14. Both! As a teacher, a parent, a mother, and a daughter, I have looked at resilience from many angles and seen people who “made it” against all odds and those who caved. Your parenting skills are excellent for developing fortitude and strength of character, but your daughter had to find the gumption within herself to get back up and try again and again. You have done your job; she will go far (hopefully by her own definition of success).

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  15. I believe it is parenting to an extent! Sorry, we can’t take all the credit. 🙂
    I say that because I have one child much more resilent than my other one. They were both parented the same way, BUT evsry child ia different. What works for one doesn’t seem to phase the other one. You can have 2 kids both experience the same kind of trauma but handle it totally different.

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