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ALAS Resilience Builder
Content Overview

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ALAS Resilience Builder© Content Overview

ALAS Resilience Builder is comprehensive and teaches many personal asset skills critical for building resilience in youth.

In order to be resilient, a youth must have assets.

Assets are the social and family support, financial and educational opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to avoid risks and to thrive.

"Studies of more than 2.2 million young people in the United States consistently show that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive." (Quoted from the Search Institute.)

Assets have positive power and build resilience in all young people, regardless of their gender, economic status, family, or race/ethnicity.

Assets are better predictors of achievement and thriving than poverty or being from a single-parent family. However, many youth who live with hardship such as poverty, disability, chaotic family circumstances, or prejudice generally have fewer assets and, consequently, less resilience to overcome challenge and setback. Assets are critical for educational and life success, especially if one faces hardship or adversity.

It is very difficult for schools or programs to build a youth's external assets such as family support, parent involvement, caring neighborhood, community programs, educational support, positive peer influence, etc.; however, it is possible to build a youth's internal assets such as resistance skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, motivation, interpersonal competence, persistence, optimism, etc.

ALAS Resilience Builder builds a huge set of personal asset skills needed by youth to overcome adversity and achieve success. The curriculum includes instruction in:

Assertive Skills

Learning how to assertively handle common social discomforts is a critical step on the road to personal self-mastery. Handling difficult situations effectively will help the youth create a positive reputation and attract respect from peer and adults alike. Because of their inexperience and lack of confidence, youth often mishandle minor confrontations, especially by responding defensively or aggressively or too passively because they don't have a ready response. By learning and practicing assertive skills for common situations, youth gain confidence and an automatic way to respond with leadership and integrity. These assertive skills are useful in peer, family, school and work situations.

How To Handle Criticism

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth how to assertively and with self-control receive feedback, acknowledge responsibility, offer no excuses or blame, and calm the person providing the criticism by verbalizing a commitment to change behavior.

How to Handle an Argument

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth that social problems or conflicts simply cannot be effectively resolved when emotions run high. Maintaining self-control is essential for reducing conflict and aggression and staying on a win-win path. When an argument or high emotion situation is brewing, youth are taught how to quickly assess and recognize the emotions they are feeling or the other person is reflecting, and then take charge of the situation verbally and disengage quickly.

How to Handle Peer Pressure

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth how to firmly yet positively and say no to peer or other social pressure to behave in ways they don't desire or situations they wish to avoid without losing face or creating enmity. Students are taught to apply these skills in a variety of peer pressure situations from bullying, drug use, cheating, and so forth that often lead to illegal or ill advised behavior.

Social Problem Solving Skills

ALAS Resilience Builder directly teaches social problem solving skills. The curriculum is written using mastery learning techniques and has been used successfully with college level, seriously emotionally disturbed, learning disabled and junior high and upper elementary level adolescents.

Participants are taught to use a "nine-step" problem solving process. Each of these nine steps are discussed below with examples of typical thinking "errors" the program addresses.

Step #1: Recognize a Problem Exists

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to recognize a problem or problematic situation as quickly as possible. Students frequently undervalue the importance of this step in solving problems.

They may "let things snowball" into complex or unsolvable dilemmas which they do not have the skills to cope with. They do not attend soon enough to negative feelings or their own moods, and aggressive or extreme responses may result. Similarly depression and boredom are feelings that many young people do not recognize as potential problems. The connection between feeling bad and acting out is rarely made before the trouble begins.

Inaccurate assessment of skill level is another example of not recognizing a problem situation. Young people may over or unrealistically estimate their skills for particular tasks and as a result, fail to compensate for weaknesses or circumvent failure.

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants two ways to recognize potential problems: (1) how to identify and be aware when thoughts and body feelings signal unhappiness, frustration or anger, and (2) how to be aware when one is thinking of breaking a rule or law.

Step #2: Stop and Get Ready to Think

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants how to control first reactions. Youth often respond without reflection in order to achieve a sense of accomplishment through implementation of seemingly easy solutions. Frequently youth feel a significant internal press to take action. Speed of action may be valued over effectiveness of action. Some youth confuse impulsive behavior with spontaneity and "authenticity."

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to control first reactions with self-talk cues so that they can take time to think out alternative solutions and use cognitive statements like, "Take time," "Stay calm," and "Think of the consequences" is an effective method for self-monitoring behavior and for self-reinforcement of goal oriented behavior.

Step #3: State the Problem and Goals

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to specify the problem clearly and state specific outcome goals. Describing the problem clearly and in concrete terms is not an easy task for anyone and it is especially difficult for those who are inexperienced with reflective thinking. Formulating the problem clearly is a critical skill to successful problem solving because effective solutions emerge in relation to clear problem and goal statements.

The most common mistake participants make is stating the problem in terms that are too general to suggest potential solutions. For example, problem statements such as "I hate my job," or "Everyone is always lying," or "I just want to make it in school" are too general to be of much help in terms of what can be specifically done to remedy the situation or achieve the goal. Whereas, problem statements such as, "I don't use the words 'please' and 'thank you," "I am failing math," or "I am always late to school," suggest potential solutions or plans of action.

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to identify a problem in two ways. The simplest method for identifying the problem is to state exactly what one did or what the other person(s) did. A more complex method is needed when one is thinking of breaking a rule or law. In this case, self-analysis of motives is required. Asking oneself what one is trying to achieve by breaking the rule or law can do this. The desired goal can then be viewed as a problem to be solved and more appropriate alternative solutions can emerge.

Step #4: Get the Facts

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to assess relevant information in social interactions and it teaches how to assess the information. There are varied reasons why some youth fail to get sufficient facts before deciding upon a solution. The most common reason for the failure is that it may simply not occur to them to increase insight and understanding by assessing critical information in the problem situation. Another common reason for not getting sufficient facts is that many youth are unable to distinguish relevant information from irrelevant information. Low self-esteem prevents some young people from asking critical questions to gain important information. Phrases such as, "I can handle it," or "I don't beg from nobody," indicate that asking questions and requests for help are perceived as humiliating. Other youth may fail to obtain accurate information because they rely on peers as sources of knowledge. Some youth often report that getting relevant facts is time consuming and can initially result in confusion. As a consequence, they may resist the fact-finding step.

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to identify relevant social information and to use direct and indirect inquiries to obtain the information. Pertinent self and other facts common to a variety of social situations are taught. In particular, offenders are taught how to take the perspective of others involved in the problem and how to distinguish opinion/grapevine information form fact.

Step #5: Make Plans

When a problem is clarified, goals clearly stated, and pertinent facts gathered, solutions can be generated. ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to generate three to six potential solutions when faced with a problem.

Generating multiple solutions is difficult for many young people. Some youth are "locked" into habits of thinking. Low self-esteem and cognitive rigidity increase tendencies to stay with familiar, albeit ineffective, responses. Solutions may be either/or. Some youth opt for drastic action or choose to do nothing. Through modeling and with practice and group support, participants can gradually learn to think more divergently in seeking alternative methods for effectively and acceptably achieving goals.

Step #6: Pick the Best

Making decisions is truly a challenging part of the problem solving process and most youth have little skill or experience in systematically analyzing problems. They may defer to others to make the decision or prefer to let "luck" run its course. Frequently young people have significant difficulty in truly weighing pros and cons. Recognizing that most solutions have positive and negative outcomes is a skill they often lack. They may be too ready to eliminate potentially effective solutions because of a single negative consequence. Or they may eliminate one solution because it has several negative but insignificant consequences while at the same time they may choose another solution, which has only one negative consequence, but the impact is significant. They must learn to pick the solutions, which maximize positive and minimize negative outcomes.

Another difficulty with picking the best solutions is selecting solutions which achieve short-term goals, (the goal for the problem at hand) and which do not sabotage long-term goals. Too often young people forget about long-term consequences and "win the battle but lose the war."

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches participants to evaluate solutions through the use of "balance sheets," listing pros and cons of each solution and evaluating the importance of each consequence. Additionally, participants are taught to adjust solutions so that long-term goals are not irrevocably damaged.

Self-Control Skills

Youth, by definition, have a difficult time controlling their impulsive responses. Nonetheless, self-control is essential for effective social responses and for success in every environment or encounter. Being able to stop first reactions and think things through is the only way a youth can avoid making an impulsive wrong choice, avoid conflict and stay on track toward their longterm goals. ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth how to recognize they are losing self-control and how to maintain or regain self-control so that problems can be resolved effectively or behavior choices can be thought through.

Attitide Success Skills

Research in neuroscience and positive psychology, especially since 2000, has made remarkable discoveries about how people can achieve a high level of conscious mastery over their thoughts and emotions in order to overcome barriers and challenges to success and create a higher sense of joy, and greater motivation, optimism, and persistence.

ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth how to create key attitude skills that will help them maintain momentum and grit in the pursuit of excellence.


Research shows that how individuals explain failure is key to maintaining optimism in the face of challenge. ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth how to explain set-back and failure in a way that will maintain hope and belief in themselves and create the foundation for being persistent.


Persistence is an outcome of optimistic thinking. Persistence, as opposed to talent, has been shown to be the most important ingredient of success in all endeavors. Resilience Builder teaches youth thinking skills to maintain momentum toward their goal when faced with challenge and struggle. Youth learn how reinterpret setbacks, refute limiting beliefs and see setbacks as opportunities.

Personal Success Skills

The psychology of achievement, leadership and personal development has identified a number of specific skills and strategies related to success. ALAS Resilience Builder teaches youth how to use the powerful skills of active visualization, gratitude, positive intention, and maintaining momentum to move forward on the path to success.

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