Resilience is Hope
Resilience is the ability to adjust or "bounce back" after something bad has happened. It is the buffer to life's adversity. It can be developed and strengthened throughout life.
Building resilience in children
Children begin developing resilience from the moment they are born. The infant learns to trust in the first year of life, and the toddler begins to test her or his independence, developing self-regulation skills and initiative. What children learn related to relationships, self-regulation, and initiative can impact their ability to function as adults. Trusted caregivers can foster resilience during these critical stages of development by providing safe, stable, and nurturing environments for children to build their skills and thrive.
Attachment / Relationships
Strong relationships and healthy attachments lead an infant to understand that their world is safe and builds their confidence for exploration. There are many ways to support healthy attachment. Some of these strategies include recognizing cues and responding or hugging and cuddling together. Kindness and patience can be modeled by using a calm and gentle voice. Ultimately, healthy attachment is built upon the feeling of safety and security.
Self-regulation is the precursor to adult self-control. It is the child’s evolving ability to show and successfully manage their feelings. A caring adult can support a child’s development of self-regulation by developing and maintaining routines, naming and discussing feelings, offering choices, or accepting mistakes and talking about ways to problem solve.
As children begin to think and act independently or try to do things for themselves they develop initiative. Children who have strong initiative will try new things or show persistence after an unsuccessful attempt at trying something new. Support a child developing initiative by playing simple games, setting up family routines, showing joy at a child’s accomplishments, or encouraging persistence.
Sesame Street addresses trauma and resilience!
The Everett Public Library has compiled a children’s book list (PDF) of 31 titles that demonstrate resilience. Organized by age group-Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers, the list provides a brief description to help you and your child find the right fit.
Reading to your child can support a nurturing relationship that can last a lifetime, and the books provide the opportunity to teach children how to talk about and manage their emotions to develop resiliency.
Building resilience as an adult
Healthy relationships should help us in laughing more, having fun, feeling healthy, and feeling supported. Do you have good friends who support you in making good decisions? Do you provide support to others? Do you trust your family or close friends?
Internal beliefs are the feelings and thoughts we have about ourselves and how effective we think we are at taking action in life. When internal beliefs about yourself are positive you are more able to shrug off a negative environment. What are some of your personal strengths? How do you describe yourself? What are you grateful for? What were some values or beliefs your family had when you were growing up? How do you feel about those values today? What values do you want your children to learn from you?
If you have the ability to make choices and decisions and act upon them then you are able to demonstrate initiative. There are a number of ways we can build initiative as adults. We can attempt to improve our communication skills, try different ways to solve problems, engage in an enjoyable hobby, pursue new knowledge, or even practice the ability to say ‘no’.
The ability to experience a range of feelings and express those feelings using words and actions that society considers appropriate describes self-control. The first step to self-control is recognizing how you are feeling. If you are able to name your feelings, are you able to express your emotions in a safe way? Sometimes it helps to set personal limits, priorities, or even take time to reflect on the successes of the day.