Developing resilience has been shown to improve outcomes even in those who experience high levels of ACEs. Some people have innate resilience, but it is a skill that can be learned and strengthened. Protective experiences and coping skills counterbalance significant adversity, and these capabilities can be strengthened at any age. By focusing on developing resilience, we can help to mitigate against the potential harm from ACEs. Resilience is a complex concept that has no clear standardised definition or measure. In the ACEs strategy, resilience is defined as the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity.

There are domains of resilience that can be adapted to build resilience in individuals with differing cultural backgrounds, these include:

  • building a sense of self efficacy and perceived control
  • providing opportunities to strengthen adaptive skills and self-regulatory capacities
  • mobilising sources of faith, hope, and cultural traditions
  • opportunity to contribute to family or community life
  • good educational experience
The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, care-giver, or other adult.

Although resilience can be developed across all age groups, during the first three years of life, and during adolescence, are the critical windows of opportunity to build resilience that will have a long lasting impact. Human brains develop and change more during these periods than at any other time. This means that, particularly for teenagers, there is huge potential for the development of new skills and capabilities including resilience .

This infographic, produced by Action on ACEs Gloucestershire, shows the different types of community connections that can contribute to building resilience. Each ring represents different levels of influence that can have a positive impact on developing overall resilience. Within each of the rings there is the knowledge, expertise and skills of individual members; the friendships and supportive social networks that develop; and the physical resources and facilities that can combine to enhance wellbeing.