What is Resiliency and How Does it Help Protect Children?

Children that succeed in spite of their circumstances – those that survive “at risk” environments and trauma – have the characteristic of resiliency. ​

Like the balls that you are bouncing, these children have the ability to “bounce back.”  They have the ability to recover from or adjust easily to difficult circumstances, change, etc.​

Resilient children are more likely to become healthy competent adults in spite of being “at risk.”​

Resilient children are less vulnerable, more stress-resistant and hardy even though they may be living in a high stress environment.​

Resilient children are less likely to become involved with tobacco, alcohol or drugs.​

You might be wondering, “What does a resilient child look like?” And “What makes a child resilient?”​

​Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1983​

Resilient children have learned to …

Like themselves

Trust themselves and others

Be autonomous

Be hopeful

Help themselves

And feel comfortable asking for help

Feel like life has meaning

Be a problem solver

Gain positive attention

​A resilient child has developed specific attributes or characteristics. For example:​

A resilient child has developed social competence. He/she is responsive and flexible in social situations; has empathy and understanding, good communication skills and a sense of humor.​

A resilient child has also developed problem-solving skills. He/she can think abstractly and reflectively; and is willing to try different solutions for cognitive and social problems.

A resilient child has developed a sense of autonomy (independence). He/she is able to act independently and believes that he/she has the ability to exert some control over the environment; a feeling of confidence that the environment is predictable and things will work out.​

And last but not least, a resilient child has a sense of purpose and future. He/she has healthy expectations, goal-directedness; a success orientation; educational aspirations; persistence; hopefulness; and a belief in a bright future

It may be easier to understand this idea of resiliency if you can identify some resilient people who have risen above the “at risk” environments of their childhood.​

​Using the handout:

From Risk to Resiliency – Who Am I? 

The answer to this question has to do with something that researchers refer to as “protective factors.”​

Protective factors can be thought of as protection from the “storm” of risks we discussed earlier.​

Protective factors come from 3 sources – child, family, and community/school.​

It might be helpful to think of protective factors as the items children wear to protect themselves from a rainstorm. ​Add slide

Some protective factors come from within the child and are like the child’s rain boots.​

Some protective factors come from the child’s family and are like the child’s rain jacket.​

Some protective factors come from the child’s community and/or school and are like using an umbrella.​

Though these factors may not completely protect the child from getting “wet” (being negatively affected by risks), all of these factors (rain gear) combined will keep child much “drier” (e.g. protected from risks).​

When the child gets wet (negatively affected by risks), the three protective factors enhance the child’s ability to dry off quickly and “bounce” back into the sunshine.

These are some of the protective factors that counteract the risk factors, tipping the scale in the child’s favor.

Insert slide of network

This network or CRADLE  of protective factors  help to  shelter the child.​

Caring/support, high expectations, and meaningful participation needs to occur in all environments (community, school, family)​

We are going to focus on ways you can foster child resilience within the family.​

Adapted from Fostering Resiliency in Kids, Benard, 1991​

​See the following resources for more information about protective factors:​

Fostering Resiliency in Children: http://resilnet.uiuc.edu/library/benard95.html

Fostering Resiliency in Children and Youth: Four Basic Steps for Families, Educators, and Other Caring Adults: http://www.ccsme.org/data/monographs/HendersonResiliencyAdolescents.pdf