January 24th, 2022

Building resilient children

By Submitted Article on January 18, 2020.

Vicki Hazelwood

Co-ordinator, Lethbridge Early Years Coalition

When children show healthy development in spite of adversity, it is called resilience. Fostering resilience in young children requires strengthening the family, the community, as well as children’s own personal resources.

A key ingredient to building resilience is the relationships children have to others who care about them. Families play a very important role. Children are not born with resilience. For some children, difficult circumstances (e.g., the death of a parent, living in poverty or being in a natural disaster) can affect their development.

Some children who show resilience in one area (i.e. school) may struggle in another (i.e. getting along with peers). Resilience is being able to adapt and cope with difficult circumstances in a positive way.

There is a great deal of research that shows the powerful impact coaches, teachers and other adults in the community, with whom children have a chance to build relationships, play a critical supportive role in building resilience. As a result of positive, responsive interactions with caring adults in their life, children learn simple skills of coping and adapting, how to regulate their behaviour and emotions and defer gratification.

Children develop an adaptive toolkit that allows them at moments of stress or challenge to bring out potential skills that help them to get through it.

Resilience in children can be fostered by:

– Providing them with the material resources and stimulation they need.

– Supporting stable and positive relationships between children and their parents and other warm, caring adults in their community.

– Fostering self-regulation skills, that enable children to direct their attention, manage emotions, keep track of rules, inhibit their impulses, and control their behaviour in other adaptive ways. Play is a great way to foster these skills.

– Reducing the level of exposure to overwhelming adversities and “toxic” stress that threaten child health and development.

Resilience building is in everyone’s best interest and everyone in our community reaps the benefits when it is done well.

Lethbridge Early Years Coalition is partnering with Family Centre, Building Brains Together and Lethbridge Public Library to host a resilience film showing and discussion evening on Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Join us to look at the science of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Effects) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent toxic stress.

Free registration is available online at http://www.lethbridgeearlyyears.ca.

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