Feature Archive

How to Be a Comeback Kid

WebMD Feature

June 26, 2000 -- What does it take to bounce back from adversity?

Ask some of the kids who made it -- including President Bill Clinton, rock singer Tina Turner, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey -- and they'll tell you they had three points in their favor:

  • Support from others
  • A belief in their own talents and abilities
  • Good people skills and a knack for problem-solving

With that formula, you can conquer almost anything, says Edith Grotberg, PhD, a senior research scientist at the Civitan International Research Center at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and author of Tapping Your Inner Strength: How to Find the Resilience to Deal With Anything.

Not everyone is born with the qualities that foster resilience. But anyone can learn them. Let's say your 13-year-old son was injured in a soccer game and will need an operation on his back this summer. The whole family will have to pitch in while he recovers. Here are seven practical questions that Grotberg says will help your entire family become more resilient:

1. What's going to happen?

Hold a family meeting and, together, draw up a list of questions: How long is the average recovery? What will your son be able to do afterward? What kind of care and supervision will he need? Find other people who have faced the same adversity and ask for advice.

2. Who will be affected?

Discuss how each family member's schedule is about to change: Who will help with the errands and the food shopping or entertain him the first few days? Who will monitor his medication? Will you have to cancel your vacation at the beach?