Psychology
Building Resilience in Children

Building Resilience in Children

Building resilience in children is more than simply teaching them life skills. Let’s define resilience, look at the key resilience elements, and see how the four science-backed suggestions may help you raise resilient kids.

As parents, we want to keep our children safe.

But we know that we can’t protect them from every hazard or difficulty that may come their way, now or in the future.

So we want our children to be able to deal with stress and change (building resilience) – to be able to recover from whatever life throws at them.

To put it simply, we aim to develop resilient children.

But how are we going to accomplish it? The good news is that studies are discovering that resilience isn’t some enigmatic intrinsic characteristic – it’s not a “you’ve got it or you don’t” situation.

Rather, it is something that is formed and strengthened as a result of certain life events.

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What Is Resilience

The process of dealing with various forms of stress and recovering from trauma or adversity is referred to as resilience.

Trauma may manifest itself in a variety of ways, ranging from early childhood adversity or abuse to the death of a parent, broken relationships, the loss of a loved one, job loss, health difficulties, or natural catastrophes. A resilient individual can continue to function and even flourish after a traumatic event.

Resilient people heal from difficult life events faster and more thoroughly, and they may even emerge relatively undamaged from extreme adversity.

Childhood psychologists have long been interested by the fact that some traumatised childrens emerge largely unscathed, while others collapse. They were curious as to what

Initially, researchers frequently concentrated on identifying risk factors such as personality characteristics and vulnerabilities that may lead to bad outcomes in children 1. However, later studies reversed this strategy, instead focusing on characteristics that contributed to favourable outcomes in at-risk children.

These are known as “resilience factors” or “protective factors.” These are the factors that, when present in a childrens life, lead to more resilience and better health outcomes. Not only that, but they appear to stack up: the more protective variables present, the higher the likelihood a kid has of adapting successfully to adversity.

When the protective elements outweigh the danger factors, children grow resilient. This suggests that children who have experienced substantial adversity may need a lot more positives to tip the scales and become resilient.

Resilience Factors

So, what are these protective factors that can assist childrens in dealing with adversity?

Numerous elements have been found by researchers and classified into three broad categories: family, person, and community. They cover a wide range of topics, but there is one recurring element that goes across many of these factors: connection with supporting individuals.

Indeed, six decades of study show that a childrens resilience is mostly determined by their connections to other people, rather than by their innate traits.

Examples of resilience elements that can assist children in adapting.

FAMILY FACTORS:

  • Effective parenting.
  • There is less familial tension.
  • Parental mental health is excellent.
  • Absence of drunkenness, drug abuse, and other vices

INDIVIDUAL FACTORS:

  • Emotional control
  • Perception of power and capacity to influence one’s own life.
  • Self-esteem and self-efficacy are two aspects of self-efficacy.
  • Possessing the ability to dream or having a feeling of purpose in life.
  • Social and communication abilities
  • Empathy.
  • A good sense of humour.
  • Health and well-being
  • Increased intellectual ability and cognitive abilities.
  • Gender: Girls are often more resilient than boys.
  • Temperament is easy.
  • Genes that are advantageous.
  • Socioeconomic position that is advantageous.

COMMUNITY FACTORS: 

  • Involvement of supportive extended family.
  • A close friendship with a mentor
  • School experiences that were positive.
  • A secure enclave.
  • A little community.
  • Social assistance.
  • A member of a religious or faith community.
  • Activities outside of the classroom.

How To Build Resilience

With this awareness of protective factors, we may develop particular ways to assist our children develop them.

While some of these variables cannot be changed, such as a childrens genetic composition or gender, there are many more that we can actively supply or support.

Here are four tried-and-true techniques for parenting resilient children:

Be Warm

Having at least one close, positive relationship with a warm, attentive, and supporting parent or another adult caregiver is the single most frequent element in establishing resilience.

Furthermore, when parents foster a healthy parent-child connection, they may educate and implant many other protective traits in their children.

Parents can foster this favourable bond by practising what child development specialists refer to as authoritative parenting. This parenting style is distinguished by a high level of responsiveness combined with high expectations.

Authoritarian parents are warm and attentive to their children’s feelings, which promotes the development of emotional control, a critical protective feature. They also offer autonomy and promote independence, assisting their children in gaining a sense of control over their own life, which is an important aspect.

Authoritarian parenting also promotes other beneficial qualities such as self-esteem, social competence, and communication skills.

Tough love parenting, on the other hand, does not promote these protective qualities and is less likely to create children who are very resilient.

Teach

Directly teaching coping skills can aid in the development of resilient childrens.

Coping strategies are beneficial not just for dealing with extreme adversity, but also for dealing with everyday obstacles and transitions. As a result, parents might view everyday changes or problems as chances to inculcate these abilities.

Furthermore, by learning to cope constructively with changes in their daily lives, children can develop a sense of self-efficacy and perceived control that will carry them through future obstacles.

Among the positive coping abilities are:

  • Problem-solving
  • Capability to plan realistically
  • Reappraisal of situations in a positive light
  • Volunteering
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Group activities and extracurricular activities

Create Stable Environment

Parents may also assist their children in developing resilience by ensuring that they have a pleasant home, school, and social environment.

Seeking treatment for any mental health or marital difficulties, being more resilient, and modelling coping methods are all ways parents may enhance our home environment.

Simultaneously, parents could become active in their children’s education and collaborate with instructors to promote a pleasant school experience.

Finally, they may assist their children in building healthy social networks while keeping them away from classmates who are detrimental.

Let It Go

Strive to provide a pleasant and healthy atmosphere for our children, but don’t isolate them.

We can’t keep a perfect house or shield our children from all potential school and social stresses.

The good news is that we don’t have to.

This is due to the fact that not all stress is damaging to children. In reality, childrens require stress to develop tolerance. Gradual stress exposure at acceptable levels might actually help children develop coping skills and become resilient. Psychologists refer to this as eustress or good stress since it can enhance coping skill development.

However, there is one important caveat: the assistance of a supportive adult is crucial in regulating stress and, as a result, turning stress exposure into a resilience builder.

Resilience Theory

There are several stories of people who have survived enormous hardship or recovered from harrowing events, only to flourish and succeed.

It’s tempting to believe that thriving against the odds necessitates something special. In fact, though, what we require to create resilience is as simple and common as regular interactions and support.

Expert Ann S. Masten discovered that, far from being unusual, resilience is really extremely typical. This was referred to as “everyday magic” by her.

The human brain is flexible. Early infancy has the highest malleability or “plasticity.” As a result, the sooner we begin to develop our children’s ability to cope with stress, the better. Although it is feasible, rewiring our brains becomes considerably more difficult as we age.

It is critical to remember that resilience is a continuous process, not a set position or end goal.

We know from Resilience Theory, the conceptual framework used by psychologists to understand how resilience works, that it varies with time and situation. A child may struggle in one area yet thrive in another. At different times in time, the kid could be more or less resilient.

Final Thoughts on Children’s Resilience

Building resilience and strengthening protective factors are all part of the process. Parents have an important part in teaching our children to adapt to whatever life throws at them.

References

  1. 1.Zimmerman MA. Resiliency Theory. Health Educ Behav. July 2013:381-383. doi:10.1177/1090198113493782
  2. 2.MASTEN AS, OBRADOVIC J. Competence and Resilience in Development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. December 2006:13-27. doi:10.1196/annals.1376.003
  3. 3.Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ. Resilience to Childhood Adversity: Results of a 21-Year Study. In: Luthar SS, ed. Resilience and Vulnerability. Cambridge University Press; :130-155. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511615788.008
  4. 4.Masten A, Barnes A. Resilience in Children: Developmental Perspectives. Children. July 2018:98. doi:10.3390/children5070098
  5. 5.Kumpfer KL. Factors and Processes Contributing to Resilience. In: Longitudinal Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Interdisciplinary Series. Kluwer Academic Publishers; :179-224. doi:10.1007/0-306-47167-1_9
  6. 6.Masten AS. Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist. 2001:227-238. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.56.3.227
  7. 7.Fletcher D, Sarkar M. Psychological Resilience. European Psychologist. January 2013:12-23. doi:10.1027/1016-9040/a000124
  8. 8.Masten AS. Global Perspectives on Resilience in Children and Youth. Child Dev. December 2013:6-20. doi:10.1111/cdev.12205

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