A tale of four children and their trip to the adventure playground: A resilience story

Colby Pearce Resilience

This following story represents an allegory for the approach to promoting resilience in children as found in the prologue to:

Pearce, C. A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2011

Once upon a time there were four children. On a warm and sunny day the parents of each child took them to an adventure playground for a play.

The first child had a wonderful time at the playground. He confidently swung on the swings, slid on the slippery-slides, toured the tunnels, and flew on the flying fox. Under the watchful gaze of his parents he tried everything and excitedly reported his feats of bravery and accomplishment to them. His parents accompanied him to each item of equipment and warmly acknowledged his efforts. They even tried some of the more difficult items to demonstrate what was possible and remained close by to catch their child if he should fall. Upon leaving the playground this child sought acknowledgement from his parents that he could come again another day.

The second child bounded from his parents’ car and eagerly entered the adventure playground, not noticing that his parents remained in the car. Observing many children at the giant slippery slide he excitedly approached it to give it a go. He was unconcerned that the other children at the slippery slide were much older than him and that the slippery slide was very high and very fast. He did not notice, nor did anyone tell him, that the slide was better suited for older children. He flew off the bottom of the slide and cannoned into the ground, hurting his arm. Shock and pain turned to tearful distress as he could not immediately find his parents for soothing of his hurts. When his parents belatedly arrived to attend to him he was difficult to soothe and angrily refused to try any other equipment. His anger and distress quickly escalated and he was carried, screaming, from the playground.

The third child approached the playground much more cautiously, preferring to remain close to his parents, holding hands. His parents guided him to the quietest corner of the playground, where the smallest and safest equipment could be found. They held his hand or carried him in their lap on the swings and the slide. When he gazed wistfully at the other children his age who were re-enacting tales of bravery and heroism in the fort, his parents encouraged him to remain with them in the sand-pit. His parents delighted in his company, and he in theirs, and he readily agreed that the fort looked dangerous and the other children played too rough.

The fourth child never made it to the adventure playground as his parents could not afford to buy fuel for their car. He spent the day alternately demanding to be taken to the playground and sulking about not being able to go.

Colby Pearce Resilience

Source: Pearce, C. A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2011

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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.
This entry was posted in AAA Caregiving, Adoption, Attachment, Children's Behaviour, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, Resilience, Trauma, trauma informed, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice, Trauma Informed Schools, Wellbeing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A tale of four children and their trip to the adventure playground: A resilience story

  1. thefamilyof5 says:

    I don’t understand the message here? Am I missing something so obvious, the 3 mice (attachment) story is so plainly obvious?

    • colbypearce says:

      Thanks familyof5 for taking the time to read the post. The message is that resilience is best promoted when children have the opportunity to take on challenges with the support of their parents or caregivers, such that the challenge is not overwhelming and they have the opportunity to experience mastery.

  2. Pingback: “this used to be my playground”… | SSSIP's "A.W.E." (Attic Of White Ethereals)!

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