Compositive Model


Resilience is the ability to adapt in positive ways within the context of significant adversity. To be resilient, one must possess coping skills as well as be adaptable to changing circumstances.

Research shows that resilience arises from internal attributes, familial relationships, and contacts with the wider community

  • Individual factors consistently associated with resilience include IQ scores, executive functioning, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.
  • Parenting characterized by warmth, involvement, and expectations foster resilience.
  • In the wider community, school, neighborhood, social services, health care quality, relationships with clubs or religious groups, and caring non-parental adults contribute to resilience among youth and adolescents.

Promising practices

Penn Resiliency Program is an intervention program that teaches cognitive-behavioral and social problem-solving skills to children in a group setting. A meta-analysis of research found that youth participating in PRP interventions had fewer depressive symptoms than youth who did not participate 12 months later. One way PRP may decrease depressive symptoms is by improving the cognitive style and coping skills of participants. 


Engagement coping – most notably problem-solving – produces positive outcomes, including higher levels of competence. Conversely, disengagement coping – problem avoidance – leads to more negative outcomes:

  • Engagement coping leads to fewer internalized problems lie depression, and externalized problems like delinquency.
  • Parents influence children’s coping directly (e.g. through teaching) and indirectly (e.g. by comforting).

Promising practices: See PRP, immediately above.


The more open one is to experience, the more adaptable one tends to be. It’s also interesting to note that some research has found that certain aspects of conscientiousness (deliberateness, orderliness, and discipline) seem to predict lower levels of adaptability. 

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