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/ Institute of Philosophy, Citizenship and Youth

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Resilient mindset

Being able to courageously cope with challenges, uncertainties, and obstacles one encounters by adopting a persevering and resolute attitude.


A resilient mindset presupposes an ability to resist frustration and discomfort, or even to embrace them when they serve an important task. It also entails the capacity to overcome obstacles and to persevere by maintaining confidence in one’s abilities. From the IPCY’s standpoint, responsible citizens with a resilient mindset can:

  • Embrace their mistakes, by rebounding from setbacks, by monitoring unpleasant emotions, by understanding the value of doubt and using it to their advantage, by figuring out the skills and resources needed to succeed, etc.

  • Cope with challenges by welcoming tough assignments, by not giving up in the face of adversity, by taking pride in the solutions they devise, by seeking to master difficult skills, by setting goals for themselves, by prizing effort over accomplishment, etc.

  • Perceive others as models by emulating good practices, by accepting others’ appraisals, by implementing advice and guidance from mentors, by avoiding unfair, disparaging comparisons between themselves and others; by internalizing inspirational mottoes, etc.


Several approaches guide the understanding of resilient mindset promoted by the IPCY: self-efficacy (Bandura), grit (Duckworth), personal persistence (Chandler), and growth mindset (Dweck).

  • Self-efficacy: According to psychologist Albert Bandura, self-efficacy “is concerned with people’s beliefs in their capabilities to exercise control over their own functioning and over events that affect their lives,” and thus infuences their cognitive, affective and conative experiences—their thoughts, feelings and motivations (1982). When confronting an activity beyond their comfort zone, self-efficacious children relish in the venture, believing that their genuine efforts and calculated risk-taking will yield constructive results, even if they end up failing and having to try anew. Self-efficacy helps cultivate youth’s awareness of the qualities and circumstances that are likeliest to bring them success and valuable lessons, and feeling a sense of ownership over their accomplishments that helps to ensure a positive outlook on their future.

  • Grit: According to psychologist Angela Duckworth’s definition, grit is a personality trait which combines perseverance and passion. Youth who have a high level of grit are able to move toward their goal for months or even years without giving up, despite obstacles and setbacks (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews & Kelly, 2007). Recent research suggests that educational environments that promote learning aimed at the mastery of new skills and the acquisition of new knowledge (rather than being performance-focused) help youth develop grit (Park, Yu, Baelen, Tsukayama, & Duckworth, 2018).

  • Personal persistence: Personal and cultural persistence have been studied by Michael Chandler, notably in Indigenous youth in Canada. At the personal level, persistence is primarily about successfully developing a coherent, identifiable and evolving sense of self. His work shows that Indigenous youth who are able to perceive a strong continuity between their past, present and future selves are less likely to attempt suicide than those who are not able to achieve a sufficiently strong coherence of their identity through time (Chandler, Lalonde, Sokol, Hallett & Marcia, 2003).

  • Growth mindset: The work of psychologist Carol Dweck has shown that youth tend to adopt either a fixed or a growth mindset: the former refers to a belief in the immutability of characteristics like intelligence or talent and an attribution of success to them, whereas the latter refers to a resolute belief that we can develop our intelligence and talent, and that it is primarily effort that determines success (2008). Youth with a growth mindset adapt more easily to stressful school transitions, perform better in challenging courses, overcome conflicts and social exclusion in healthier ways, and are also happier, less stressed and more efficient (Yeager & Dweck, 2012; Yeager, Trzesniewski & Dweck, 2013). Teachers can help youth adopt a growth mindset, for example by praising their learning process rather than their abilities, or by having high and realistic expectations that motivate youth to set high goals for themselves (Yeager & Dweck, 2012).

See references.