Understanding Resilience

Adversity is a feature of the life of every child. It can be present when a child is learning a new skill, on their first day of school, when they are negotiating conflicts and when their ambition exceeds their ability. For some children, such as those who have chronic medical conditions and disabilities, adversity is a predominant and pervasive feature of their day-to-day life. Some children demonstrate persistence in the face of adverse conditions, whereas others shy away from them. Whatever the source of adversity, the ability to cope with it is critical to a child’s development and to them experiencing a productive, successful and satisfying life. 

Psychological strength, or resilience, is directly implicated in a child’s capacity to cope with adversity. Resilience represents that quality of the individual that enables them to persist in the face of challenges and recover from difficulty or hardship. Resilience strengthens a child and enables them to try new experiences, accept challenges, and cope with frustration and failure. Resilience sustains a child through hardship and supports the realisation of dreams and aspirations. As such, the promotion of resilience is a universal concern of all adults with a caring concern for children.

A child’s capacity to cope with adversity (i.e. their resilience) varies over time in association with biological, psychological and environmental influences, and the interaction of these.

Biological influences include the child’s temperament and their susceptibility to stress and anxiety. Psychological influences include the child’s capacity to develop and maintain constructive beliefs in conditions of adversity, including beliefs about personal worth and competence, expectations of social support and beliefs about the world in which they live. Environmental influences include the extent to which the environment satisfies the needs of the child, including the child’s need for love, acceptance, protection, safety, shelter and physical sustenance.

About colbypearce

I am a practising Clinical Psychologist with twenty-seven years’ experience working with children and young people recovering from abuse and neglect. I am also an author and educator in trauma-informed, therapeutic caregiving. My programs are implemented in Australia and Ireland, and I am well-known for my practical and accessible guidance for caregivers and professionals alike.
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1 Response to Understanding Resilience

  1. Alison Banks says:

    My son was born in 1987. He spent the first 18 months of his life in 4 different hospitals. Because of ignorance of this condition in Hertfordshire, England my poor son suffered even more and now has an anti Social Personality Disorder. The truth is they do not have a clue. They put emotional and behavioural problems on a Statement of Special Education Needs he was assessed as needing in 1994. The laugh is no one was looking at why he had these problems, apart from myself. They just said “he spent the first eighteen months of his life in hospitals but was ok now” That was far from the truth. They did recommend a counsillor and therapy but to this day he has never received any. Attachment Disorder turned into Seperation Anxiety and then ADHD and then Hyper Manic Disorder and Hyper Kinectic Disorder. God knows what else, but the last 2 Psychiatric reports say Anti-Social Personality Disorder. They also say “he should have been diagnosed with Mixed Disorder of Emotion and Conduct as a young child but non of them got the Attachment Disorder. And to make matters worse for us when I tried to go to a Special Education Needs Tribunal, Hertfordshire County Council took me to The Family Court. Boy did they have things to hide, my son was 13 by then so they got to hide their failings. Thousands of pounds wasted on so called specialist education provisions and family court action.
    I am angry they got away with neglect and abuse through emotional and mental cruelty that denied him an education from the age of 11 and the right to a peaceful family life. He is 23 years old now and I am proud of him for what he has achieved but the years of psychological damage will take years to mend, if they do at all.

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