Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 3037–3047 | Cite as

Self-Compassion: A Potential Path to Adolescent Resilience and Positive Exploration

  • Karen BluthEmail author
  • Michael Mullarkey
  • Christine Lathren
Original Paper


The adolescent developmental stage is characterized by multiple transitions, both physiological and environmental, and physical, cognitive and socioemotional growth that often leads to both challenges and opportunities. Developing coping strategies to contend with these challenges, such as strengthening resilience and being open to new experiences, can potentially facilitate traversing this developmental period with greater ease. Although previous research has supported the premise that self-compassion buffers the negative effects of these emotional challenges, little research to date has examined the link between strengths-based attributes such as resilience and curiosity/exploration (i.e., being open to and embracing new experiences) and self-compassion, and whether age or gender moderates these relationships. As such, the purpose of this study was to explore these relationships among a large adolescent sample. Results of 786 public school adolescents and 271 private school adolescents (68% white, 65% female, Mage = 15.6) who responded to questions in an online survey indicated that self-compassion was positively associated with both curiosity/exploration and resilience, and gender moderated the relationship between self-compassion and resilience such that this association was stronger among males than females. Age did not moderate the relationship between self-compassion and either resilience or curiosity/exploration, indicating that self-compassion is associated with both resilience and curiosity/exploration at all ages across adolescence. Implications are that interventions that cultivate self-compassion among adolescents may strengthen resilience and curiosity/exploration, offering new and healthy ways to cope with these challenges leading to improved emotional well-being.




This study was funded in part by North Carolina Translational and Clinical Research Institute and by the NIH/NCCIH T32AT003378 and NIH/NCCIH T32AT003378-04.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Bluth declares that she is the co-creator of Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens and Young Adults. The remaining authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10826_2018_1125_MOESM1_ESM.docx (259 kb)
Supplementary Materials


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.University of TexasAustinUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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