What is resiliency? Why is it important? How do families and communities build resilience in children?
Resiliency is often defined as the ability to bounce back from unexpected negative changes or situations. It helps children deal with and recover from stressful situations and unfortunate circumstances that they may experience in their lifetime. According to the Encyclopedia of Early Child Development, '(f)ostering resilience in young children requires strengthening the family, the community, as well as children’s own personal resources. In other words, families and other caring adults in the community, play an important role in providing children with the right skills and tools that will help them become resilient.
According to this resource, family based programming is an effective way to both strengthen parental capacity and build resiliency of children and youth. The report outlines the benefits of family based programming and spotlights three evidence based programs, including Strengthening Families, a family focused program that strengthens parent-child relationship and builds resiliency of children in the middle years. Another evidence based family focused program worth noting is Families and Schools Together. This eight-week program is built on the foundations of several social, behavioral, and psychological science, including Family Stress Theory, Family Systems Theory, Parental Empowerment, and Risk and Resiliency.
Here are a few great tips on how to build resilience in children, found in Building Resilience in Children – 20 Practical, Powerful Strategies (Backed by Science):
- Supportive relationship with a caring adult – helps children develop critical coping skills
- Build their executive functioning – through routine, creative play & exercise
- Support healthy response to stress – through mindfulness
- Self -Mastery – support them in trying difficult tasks and gain confidence in their attempts
- Reframing – teach them how to see the problem with a different lens (i.e. opportunity)
- Social Connections – facilitate connections with community members (i.e. sport group)
- Healthy risk taking – encourage the to make age appropriate decisions / problem solve
- Growth Mindset – help them see that they can develop themselves and change beliefs
- Role Modeling – show them how you handle stressful or sad situations