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Child & Youth Well-Being & Resilience

Understanding and promoting factors that contribute to children’s well-being and resilience

Social, emotional and cognitive skills serve as critical foundations for children’s well-being — and as important resources (called “protective factors”) for children growing up in adverse circumstances. Children with well-developed skills in these areas can have reduced risk for academic, behavioral, mental health, and substance use problems.

Our research utilizes a bioecological, or “whole-child” approach to examine the influences of neurobiological stress responses, self-regulation, parenting, family relationships, neighborhood, and economic disadvantage on children’s social, emotional and cognitive well-being.

We are also developing provider, parent and youth programs that support the development of child self-regulation and social-emotional well-being. These programs combine cognitive-behavioral approaches to promote social-emotional skills with mindfulness and compassion practices to support well-being.

Research topics include

  • Children’s well-being and resilience in the face of poverty, family adversity, domestic violence, cancer
  • Self-regulation and cCoping as protective factors in at-risk children and youth
  • Parenting and emotion coaching interventions for children in high-risk contexts
  • Mindfulness-based parenting and youth-resilience programs

Current Research, Projects & Programs


Promoting child and parent self-regulation and social-emotional competence through behavioral parenting practices and mindfulness. Learn more >

NEW Moms Connect: Nurturing Emotional Well-being

We are exploring the benefits of different mindfulness and self-compassion based programs for mothers during the perinatal period. To our knowledge, this is the first large study on mindfulness with families living in a low-income context. Learn more >

Be REAL – Resilient Attitudes and Living

Combining social-emotional skills with mindfulness and compassion practices to support youth well-being and resilience. Learn more >


Understanding how teens and young adults regulate their behaviors, their emotions and themselves. Learn More >

Emotion Coaching and Maintaining Family Relationships

Studying how families maintain strong family relationships in the face of adverse environments and life events, and how emotionally sensitive parenting can protect children and support positive outcomes. Learn more >

Related Resources


Maternal Mental Health and Child Adjustment Problems in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Families Experiencing Economic Disadvantage

Abstract Parents living in low-income contexts shouldered disproportionate hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic with consequences to maternal mental health and child adjustment. The current study uses a sample of first-time mothers (N=147) of young toddlers, all living in low-income contexts, to examine the roles of pre-pandemic and COVID-19-specific risk and individual resilience factors in the

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Examining interactions between negative emotionality and effortful control in predicting preadolescent adjustment problems

In concurrent and longitudinal analyses, we examined negative emotionality-by-effortful control interactions in predicting anxiety, depression, and conduct problems in 214 children aged 8–12.

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Protecting Youth Mental Health – The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory

This Advisory offers recommendations for supporting the mental health of children, adolescents, and young adults. 

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Resources for Teens and Tweens

Resources to support your teen and tween’s well-being during COVID-19.

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Child and Family Well-Being As We Emerge From COVID-19: A Multi-Disciplinary Conversation About How to Support Children and Families After the Pandemic

A multi-disciplinary conversation about how to support children and families after the pandemic with Heather Hill, Ph.D., Anisa M. Ibrahim, MD, Ann Ishimaru Ed.D., and Liliana J. Lengua, Ph.D.

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Academic Partners

We collaborate with partners in a variety of fields, both across the University of Washington and at other universities and research centers.
UW School of Nursing
UW Department of Pediatrics
UW College of Education
UW Psychology
UW Psychology
UW Psychology
UW School of Social Work
School of Medicine
UW Psychology

Connect With Us

Want to learn more about our research and programs in child and youth well-being? Contact CCFW Director Liliana Lengua at liliana@uw.edu.