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What Is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from different stressors, hardships, trauma and other personal challenges in life. If someone is resilient, it does not necessarily mean that they are unaffected by the event in their lives. It means that they are able to cope with the situation and move forward from it in a more positive and helpful manner.

How can children develop to be more resilient?

Research has shown that biology (eg. temperament, intelligence) of the child can play a major role in how resilient they are. There are also many environmental and social factors that can assist in increasing resilience. Some of this which will be detailed below includes support from caregivers and other positive people who provide encouragement to try and assistance to manage stressors. In children that have multiple hardships in their lives, it is important to examine their environment and increase support as even resilient children need this in times of adversity.

The psychologists at Wellbeing Therapy Space often hear that caregivers want to know how they can assist children to be more resilient. Below are some of the ways this may help:

Increasing Social Networks – The network of people around a child can assist in developing resilience in several ways.  Firstly, there can be different role models that they can learn from outside of their immediate caregiver relationships.  These may be mentors or extended family eg. uncles, teachers, sport coaches.  Secondly, increased social skills can assist to promote resilience.  By having a social network around the child in sporting teams, extended family and community members may enable them to practise and develop these skills needed in social situations.  An increase in social skills will assist them in the future to be able to manage conflict with others, problem solve in teams and make friends.

Positive Role Modelling – if a child can see that their caregivers are able to handle stressors effectively they are more likely to be able to do the same.   This does not mean hiding your emotions or pretending that everything in the situation is fine but it does mean demonstrating that you are having a balanced way of thinking about the situation and not turning to unhelpful behaviours to deal with it. For example, you may rush to the bank just before it closes and not arrive in time.   Instead of becoming irate and angry and demanding that they let you in you might accept the emotion that is there and come up with a solution.  This way, children can learn that it is alright to have emotions and from these we can also try to problem solve.

Provide love and warmth – children who have loving caregivers that provide help to them when needed is a protective factor in resilience.  This can sometimes be easier to do with children that naturally have easy-going temperaments but research has also shown that love and warmth from caregivers can also help in developing a more easy-going disposition.

Promoting positive ways of thinking in difficult situations – a primary caregiver’s way of thinking can directly impact the way a child thinks about their own personal challenges.  If you are positive, manage difficult situations in life in a balanced way instead of negative or catastrophic (thinking the worst will come from the situation) then it is likely to play a positive role in how the child thinks about their own life challenges.  Above all, provide a fun environment where it is acceptable to make mistakes as it can be seen as an opportunity to learn from them!

At Wellbeing Therapy Space, we can assist both you and your child to increase resilience through changes in thinking, patterns in communication and enable these changes to be made with support in a safe environment.

Author: Kara Travouillon

For more information contact her on this link.

References:

Masten.A, Hubbard.J, Gest.S.D, Tellegen,.A, Garmezy.N & Ramirez.M (1999) Competence in the context of adversity: Pathways to resilience and maladaptation from childhood to late adolescence, Development and Psychopathology , Issue 01 March, pp 143-169