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Time With Your Kids
Building Resilience: Growing Stronger

In life, everyone experiences different levels and types of stress. In fact, minor stress is normal and is necessary for personal development. Studies show that the experience of “everyday” and “tolerable” stress may help children’s development of self-regulatory and coping skills. With the right skill sets and support system in place, young children can better manage stressful times, including traumatic events.

Building Resilience
Naturally, parents and caregivers try to shield young children from negative experiences, but learning how to deal with the inevitability of stress is beneficial to, and even necessary for, children’s healthy development. It is important for parents and caregivers to focus their attention on promoting childhood resilience, because resilient children are equipped with life skills that will help them cope, recover from hardships, and be prepared for future life challenges. Resilience is defined by “the capacity to rise above difficult circumstances, allowing children to exist in this less-than-perfect world, while moving forward with optimism and confidence” (Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., M.S.Ed.). Studies on resilience in children have shown that children can recover from traumatic events and re-establish a sense of well-being.

Connecting Protective Factors With Resilience
Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, and communities that, when present, promote well-being and may reduce the risk for negative results. In essence, protective factors help families cope with challenging and difficult life situations. Parents can build several protective factors early in their young child’s life by having positive family relationships, providing strong family guidance and support, showing encouragement, and giving positive feedback for a child’s pursuits and accomplishments. These are just a few of the factors to keep in mind to help protect children from stress and/or adversity. For additional tips for connecting protective factors with resilience, visit Building Blocks’Traumatic Events in a Child’s World.

Tips for Building Resiliency: Using the Seven C’s Model (Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., M.S.Ed.)
The seven C’s research model supports parents with practical guidelines to prepare children to thrive by building resilience in children. The seven C’s are:

  1. Competence: Children who recognize their own strengths can rely on those strengths to make good decisions.
  2. Confidence: Children who feel competent will feel confidence in their own abilities.
  3. Connection: Children’s sense of security develops from strong ties to family and community, and physical and emotionally secure children will develop strong values.
  4. Character: Strong values enable children to distinguish right from wrong and develop compassion for others.
  5. Contribution: Parents can communicate to children that they have value in the world in order to instill in them a sense of purpose and motivation.
  6. Coping: Parents can introduce positive coping techniques to help their children deal with stressors. Begin by modeling these techniques in their presence.
  7. Control: Children who know that they have some control over the effects of their decisions can believe in their ability to bounce back from adversity.

Regardless of the stress level, the seven C’s guidelines encourage parents to teach young children to solve problem and to handle and express their feelings and emotions in order to overcome adversity. Remember that with the right support system in place, you as well as your child will feel connected, cared about, and loved.

Family Activity: Building Resilience

Educator Activity: Watch Me Grow Stronger: Building Resilience

Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Promoting Protective Factors for In-Risk Families and Youth: A Brief for Researchers

American Psychological Association
“Resilience Guide for Parents & Teachers” shares tips for building resilience in children.

Fostering Resilience
The 7 Cs: The Essential Building Blocks of Resilience” provides parents with resources and tools for building resilience in children. 

Kids Health
The following resources provide detailed information for parents and caregivers about the importance of understanding the various sources of childhood stress:

National Association for the Education of Young Children
I Am Safe and Secure: Promoting Resilience in Young Children” addresses the importance of developing resilience in young children and ways to promote that development.

NationalAssociation of State Mental Health Program Directors
The following resources provide information for parents and caregivers about building resilience in young children.

  • “Creating Compassionate, Trauma-Informed Schools to Foster Resilience” Webinar PowerPoint slides; and
  • “Compassionate Schools: The Heart of Learning and Teaching.”

Society for Research in Child Development
Positive Development of Minority Children” this policy report discusses the importance of paying closer attention to what families and communities are doing right to promote optimal child development.  

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Building Resilience in Children and Youth Dealing with Trauma” discusses the kinds of trauma children can face and includes facts related to a lack of resiliency.

Building Blocks for a Healthy Future

Zero to Three
Building Resilience: The Power to Cope With Adversity” defines resilience and describes its importance in the lives of young children.

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Updated on 3/22/2014