Promoting Children’s Resilience: What you need to know!

In these extraordinary times I have noticed that there has been increased interest in this article, written some years ago, but still containing relevant information. What I would add is the role of CARE, which extends what I refer to in this article as aspects of parenting and caregiving that foster resilience (Accessibility, Sensitive Responsiveness, Affective Attunement). If you have been a recent visitor to this site you will have seen that I have been releasing resources about how to implement CARE in support of children’s wellbeing and adjustment in these difficult times. I hope you find the right information for your circumstances on this site and am happy to receive suggestions in the comments section about any topics you would like me to cover.

If you find this article useful I would be really grateful of you consider purchasing my book via one of the Amazon online stores below.

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

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Or, download here.

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Attachment and Resilience

On a sunny autumn day David, who was four years of age, travelled with his parents to a local park for a picnic. Upon their arrival, David and his parents observed a scene replete with the recreational delights of lush grass, shady trees, warm open spaces and . . . . .  an adventure playground. What happened next provides an insight into how David is likely to cope with adversity, and recover from it, throughout his life.  In short, what happened next provides an insight into David’s resilience.

Adversity is a feature of the life of every child. It is 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. Some children demonstrate persistence in the face of adverse conditions, whereas others shy away from adversity. Those who persist in their endeavours…

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A little extra needs provision

Hello again. I am taking my own advice and maintaining a consistent routine as much as possible during these extraordinary times by posting content that I hope will prove to be useful to caregivers of children and young people.

If you have appreciated receiving the resources I have released thus far, keep an eye out for an expanded resource that I will be releasing in the next week or so. The expanded resource will include more detailed information about the content of the infographics and how to use them in support of providing a little extra CARE during these troubled times.

Today’s resource is the second part of the Responsive dimension in the CARE Model. Proactive needs provision is so important!. When they were babies, it was how our children and young people learnt that they could rely on us to keep them safe and respond to their needs. In doing so, we provided our children with the profound reassurance that allowed them to switch their focus to exploring and learning about their world, developing their skills and experiencing mastery along the way. It was an important way in which we fostered their capacity to be resilient and self-reliant.

When children and young people become anxious they can show some signs of emotional and behavioural regression, such that they become less independent and more demanding. They may seem a little selfish. At such times they need a little extra needs provision by you to reassure them that it is OK, their needs are still important and you are here to help!

If you wish to download a PDF of this resource, please click here.

The CARE Model is explained in more detail in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). To purchase the book, and support this site, please consider doing so from one of the sites below by clicking on the caption:

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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A little extra understanding in tough times

In this, the fourth in a series of posts about resources I am distributing to help caregivers of children during these extraordinary times, I highlight the importance for children and young people of being heard and understood. Science shows that feeling heard and understood by a trusted adult is like a psychological vaccine against mental health problems and behaviour problems. Feeling heard and understood supports wellbeing and a confident approach to life and relationships. Feeling heard and understood reassures a child or young person that they can depend on adults in a caregiving role. Feeling heard and understood supports ideas that their experiences are real, that their experience matters, and that they matter.

In tough times, we cannot always make the problem go away, but engaging with understanding offers a powerful experience of connection that supports wellbeing and resilience.

In the first of two related infographics below, I outline a process for enriching a child or young person’s experience of being heard and understood. In the second resource, I describe a variation of the Pick-up-Sticks Game that can be utilised to support experiences of being heard and understood. If you wish to download a PDF of these resources, click here.

The CARE Model is explained in more detail in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). To purchase the book, and support this site, please consider doing so from one of the sites below by clicking on the caption:

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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A little extra Accessibility in tough times

Children first learn that we are accessible to them during infancy when we attend to them whether they are crying or quiet.

Attending to infants whether they are crying or quiet provides experiences of their worth, of our proximity and responsiveness, and of their safety in the world. In time, these experiences support emerging beliefs about themselves, others, and their world that influence a child’s approach to life and relationships. I refer to these beliefs as attachment representations (Pearce, 2016). They are otherwise referred to in the child development and psychology literature as attachment working models or schema. Attending to infants whether they are crying or quiet is also profoundly reassuring, such that they maintain a state of wellbeing and explore their world unhindered by the debilitating and restricting effects of anxiety. Attending to infants whether they are crying or quiet supports learning that adults in a caregiving role can be relied upon to attend to them without having to control and regulate the proximity of adults to make it so.

Accessibility supports a confident approach to life and relationships, exploration, and attainment of developmental milestones.

In tough times, children and young people can experience a heightened need for the profound experience of reassurance that is afforded to them by the presence of an accessible (and responsive) adult. To this end, I developed the infographic below (the third in a series) to provide direction to adults in a caregiving role about how to enrich the experience of their accessibility for children and young people in their care. You can access a PDF of the infographic here.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if there is a specific topic you would like me to consider. Wishing you all good health and happiness during these tough times.

The CARE Model is explained in more detail in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). To purchase the book, and support this site, please consider doing so from one of the sites below by clicking on the caption:

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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It is not just about toilet paper

In recent times much attention has been directed towards the so-called ‘panic buying’ of staples, including toilet paper and other hygeine products.

The Prime Minister of Australia has told the population to “stop it”, by which he meant for people to stop buying and hoarding staples in anticipation of a lack of supply. He has told us that there is enough to go around, presumably if we all think and act rationally in relation to accessing staples.

The South Australian government has moved to deregulate shopping hours in an apparent gesture to reassure shoppers that they can access staples anytime.

The problem is that neither strategy addresses the fact that for too many people, when you walk into the shopping centre to buy staples, such as toilet paper, there is none there!

So-called ‘panic buying’ and hoarding of staples arises in the contexts of fear and (new) learning. As a fear response, it is not (entirely) rational, and appealing to people be rational is unlikely to have sufficient impact to address them problem. Shaming them, such as referring to the behaviour as ‘un-Australian’, is only likely to compound fear and distress, and exacerbate the problem. As a learning response, ‘panic buying’ arises in the context of (new) learning that you cannot always rely on being able to access what you need.

When access to needs provision is inconsistent a preoccupation arises. Regardless of their prior learning, people tend to engage in behaviours that increase their chances of their needs being met, such as through ‘panic buying’. This might be likened to a basic human instinct. Yes, we can override this instinct with reason, but it is hard to be reasonable when we are anxious.

Money is another staple, and providing access to money through ‘stimulus packages’ is a worthy endeavour, so long as everyone gets access to stimulus money. In the current climate, access to money is, conceivably, the next great preoccupation.

Whether it was meant or not, the model used in providing stimulus money is a potentially helpful methodology for addressing a preoccupation with accessibility to needs provision, and associated compulsive behaviour (i.e. ‘panic buying’) to reassure oneself about access. If governments in Australia and around the world want to temper so-called ‘panic-buying’ and associated fear and distress, they need to turn their minds to providing basic staples in a reliable manner.

Imagine, a stimulus package that delivers toilet paper to every household in Australia . . ..

A final thought. We know that people tend to ‘see’ that which is in their thoughts. This is referred to in the psychology literature as ‘selective attention bias’ or ‘inattentional blindness’. It can also be shown that without prompting to do otherwise people tend to focus on what is wrong rather than what is right. In evidence of this, take moment to look at the equations below and notice what stands out for you.

Our ‘natural tendency’ to notice what is wrong (4+4 does not equal 9) means that we tend to inflate the magnitude of problems in our own minds by overlooking that which is right. In the current coronavirus crisis, there is much in the news that is anxiety evoking (or is this my own selective attention bias at work?) and our tendency to selectively attend to that which is a problem can have the effect of magnifying our anxiety. If you contrast this with the news coverage of the recent bushfire emergency there was much attention given in the media to the heroism of the fire fighters and the endeavours by the community to support them. There was greater balance to the story. Though there was anxiety, people were also reassured that brave people were putting their lives on the line to tackle a great threat to lives and livelihood.

There are many clever people trying to develop a vaccine and other treatments for the coronavirus (COVID 19). It would help if we knew more about what they are doing. The media have a powerful role to play, as do the government. In doing so, there may be progress towards more than one cure.

In the meantime, try to maintain as many routines as you can. Keep track of doing so. In uncertain times, tuning into the predictable elements of life can be an effective buffer against anxiety.

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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A little extra consistency in tough times

We are experiencing remarkable times. The Coronavirus (COVID 19) has brought with it a great deal of uncertainty, for all of us. Uncertainty is stressful. Certainty allows us to predict what will happen, when it will happen, and how it will happen. Predictability allows us to get on with what we are doing unhindered by uncertainty about what lies ahead. When the road ahead is difficult, predictability allows for preparation.

Consistency, such as in the routines we maintain in everyday life, supports experiences of predictability. Consistency is reassuring.

It has long been accepted that children need consistency. This is, in part, because consistency is optimal for learning about how the world works and how to influence the world. This perception of influence is a powerful source of reassurance. The importance of consistency is also in its effect on children’s nervous system. Consistency is calming. Consistency supports a confident approach to life and relationships. Consistency supports successful endeavour and a perception of competence.

Consistency acts as a buffer against stress and uncertainty in troubled times. This is true of all of us. We need to maintain what routines we can, for our own wellbeing. Our wellbeing will ‘rub-off’ on the children and young people in our care.

Nevertheless, children (and young people) will benefit from a little extra consistency in these troubled times. In support of parenting and caregiving endeavours in this regard, I have prepared the infographic below. You can download a PDF version here.

I would encourage you all to maintain as many of your typical routines as you can. I would also encourage you to offer the child or children (and young people) in your care a little extra consistency. It is important to be aware of what you already do that helps, as well of the signs that your that you are making an impact. I explain this further in an article about self-care here. I wish you well in your endeavours and look forward to sharing more guidance with you, and brighter times ahead!

The CARE Model is explained in more detail in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). To purchase the book, and support this site, please consider doing so from one of the sites below by clicking on the caption:

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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A little extra CARE in tough times

Hi everyone. In a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I thought I would provide a complementary infographic that acknowledges that in tough times children benefit from a little extra CARE also. This seems most apt in this most troubling of times. I intend to post regularly through this period and provide further practical resources and guidance for parents and caregivers of children. I am happy to receive feedback and suggestions about what readers of this blog might like me to address. For now, please find an updated resource below, a PDF of which can be downloaded here.

The CARE Model is explained in more detail in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). To purchase the book, and support this site, please consider doing so from one of the sites below by clicking on the caption:

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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A little extra CARE

Children recovering from early adversity, including trauma and other adverse events, need a little extra CARE from adults who interact with them in a care and management role. I have provided, below, a little infographic to highlight where to focus our endeavours. Do let me know what you think. Please also consider registering for one or more of our upcoming online training events. Details here.

If you would like to download a PDF of this infographic, click here.

The CARE Model is explained in more detail in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). To purchase the book, and support this site, please consider doing so from one of the sites below by clicking on the caption:

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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Kinship CARE

Kinship CARE is a comprehensive training package for trauma-informed care and practice among kinship carers and professionals who support them. Kinship CARE is tailored to the experience and training needs of kinship carers. Kinship CARE recognises that, for kinship carers, relational connection is important. Kinship CARE supports enriched relational connections. Kinship CARE also recognises that children and young people who cannot safely be cared for at home or are recovering from a tough start to life have additional care needs. Kinship CARE supports having an understanding of what those additional care needs are and how they may be addressed therapeutically. Kinship CARE acknowledges that kinship carers have much to contend with, and that advice and guidance needs to be practical and realistic. Kinship CARE supports the development of Therapeutic Care Plans that are tailored to the characteristics and capabilities of individual kinship households. Kinship CARE acknowledges the persistence of kinship carers in challenging circumstances. Kinship CARE offers a practical approach to thinking about and implementing self-care.

Kinship CARE supports caregiver engagement with training. Kinship CARE focuses on the assets kinship carers bring to the role. Empowerment of kinship carers is a central aspect and intended outcome. Kinship CARE acknowledges strengths.  Through complementary training for kinship carers and the professionals who support them in the role, Kinship CARE supports a common knowledge, language, and approach. In doing so, Kinship CARE supports equality, effective communication, and alignment in the care team.

Kinship CARE is delivered in a manner that makes it accessible to kinship carers ( and professionals who support them). Delivery utilises verbal content, practical demonstrations, videos, and individual and group reflective activities. Kinship CARE follows adult-learning principles. Embeddedness is supported through trained professionals modelling the Model in their own interactions with kinship carers.

Kinship CARE encourages the implementation of a therapeutic care environment around the kinship child, in the pursuits of an optimal psychological environment and developmental outcomes within the kinship child. Kinship CARE incorporates the CARE1 (Consistency, Accessibility, Responsiveness, Emotional Connectedness) and Triple-A Models2. Drawn from psychological science, the CARE and Triple-A Models represent evidence-informed frameworks for understanding what good caregiving and psychological functioning looks like, and the impact of early adversity on the developing child. Kinship CARE applies thinking and caregiving strategies that support optimal developmental outcomes for children.

Kinship CARE is derived from the Kinship CARE Project. Initially a two-year joint-initiative of Secure Start® and the Department for Child Protection (DCP), the Kinship CARE Project was delivered to 250 kinship carers across 7 regional and 17 metropolitan locations. Twelve percent (12%) of participants identified as being of indigenous descent. Session by session evaluations from the first eighteen groups show that more than 98% of participant kinship carers indicate that the training was informative, practical and useful, that they were satisfied with the training, and that they would recommend it to other kinship carers. Eighty-four percent (84%) of participant kinship carers who completed the training and a three-month follow up survey report that they are experiencing improved relationships with the children in their care, eighty-nine percent (89%) report that they feel more confident in the role, ninety-eight percent (98%) report that they have learnt strategies that have helped them in the kinship role, and one-hundred percent (100%) report that they have received helpful information. Analysis of pre-post questionnaires for the first twelve implementation groups identified that kinship carers were more than twice as likely to refer to behaviour being an expression of needs after four training sessions.

Kinship CARE recognises the prevalence of family trauma and loss among kinship and indigenous families. Kinship CARE incorporates language and content that is respectful, inclusive and non-shaming.  

Displayed with the permission of the Artist
Rose Ward, Noongar Woman

For more information about Kinship CARE, visit our Kinship CARE Project Page here and our Kinship CARE Curriculum page here.

To access training in Kinship CARE, see our upcoming training here.

References:

  1. Pearce, C.M. (2016) A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  2. Pearce, C.M. (2010). An Integration of Theory, Science and Reflective Clinical Practice in the Care and Management of Attachment-Disordered Children – A Triple A Approach. Educational and Child Psychology (Special Issue on Attachment), 27 (3): 73-86

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

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What is ‘good’ parenting and caregiving?

With the uptake of strengths-based approaches to child welfare practice in Australia and related child protection jurisdictions in Europe and North America, it is timely to consider what is ‘good’ parenting and caregiving.

In this article I briefly introduce a model for considering what is ‘good’ parenting and caregiving in terms of the benefits it affords the developing child. That is, a model for identifying assets that are central to strengths-based practice.

The model is the CARE Model, which appears in A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder – Second Edition (Pearce, 2016). The CARE Model reflects what science informs us are important aspects of caregiving and the caregiving environment that promote an optimal ‘internal’ (psychological) environment for children and young people; one that supports secure exploration, mastery, and optimal developmental outcomes. This optimal internal environment is one where children develop a secure attachment style, maintain optimal arousal levels for performance and wellbeing, and learn how to influence their world in functional ways to support accessibility to needs provision. I refer to this as the Triple-A Model (Attachment, Arousal, Accessibility to needs provision; Pearce, 2009; 2010; 2011; 2016).

The CARE Model refers to:

  • Consistency
  • Accessibility
  • Responsiveness
  • Emotional-Connectedness

I will briefly explain why each component of the model is important. For a fuller account of the the CARE Model I refer you to A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder – Second Edition (Pearce, 2016) and the CARE Curriculum (previously known as the CARE Therapeutic Framework).

Consistency

Children benefit from having a small number of primary caregivers who are aligned in their approach to caregiving and present to the child in a consistent manner. Children also benefit from a caregiving environment that is ordered, and where they can predict what is gong to happen, when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen, and why it is going to happen.

Consistency is optimal for learning, including learning about the accessibility and responsiveness of adults in a caregiving role. Consistency is reassuring, and so supports more optimal arousal levels. Consistent parental accessibility and responsiveness promotes a secure attachment style, which supports a positive approach to life and relationships.

Tip: Identify the routines and rituals in the home that support a child’s experience of order and predictability.

Accessibility

Children benefit from experiencing their primary caregivers as being accessible to them. Caregiver accessibility promotes tolerance of separations and secure exploration which, in turn, support all aspects of a child’s journey towards achieving their developmental potential, and independence.

Tip: Identify times that the caregivers in the home attend to the child proactively.

Responsiveness

Children benefit from the experience that their needs are understood and important and will be addressed reliably and predictably by their primary caregivers. Caregiver responsiveness promotes optimal beliefs about self, other and world (attachment working models/ representations), which support a confident approach to life and relationships, wellbeing, and trust in accessibility to needs provision.

Tip: Identify ways in which the caregivers in the home acknowledge the child’s experience and address their needs (proactively). See also my article about adults using their words.

Emotional Connectedness

Children benefit from the experience of their primary caregivers regulating them through loving touch and moments of shared emotional experience followed by regulation to calm (co-regulation). As a result of their primary caregivers regulating them and regulating with them, children ultimately learn to regulate themselves. Through shared emotional experience children develop an understanding and appreciation of the experience of others, which form the basis for empathy and self-regulation in consideration of the experience of others (reciprocity). Further, through shared emotional experience and (co)regulation by their primary caregivers, children are afforded a safe emotional space to explore and accept a range of emotional experience

Tip: Identify activities over which the caregivers and children have a shared emotional experience (Further tip: emotional connectedness is often a by-product of play).

For more information I refer you to A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder – Second Edition (Pearce, 2016) and the CARE Curriculum.

Please also see my program of upcoming training. To book training for your staff group, do get in touch.

A straightforward guide to keeping things on track in the home during tough times. Includes printable worksheets – see preview below. 18pp

Pay/donate what you want:

 

Or, download here.

Preview:

References:

Pearce, C.M. (2016) A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Second Edition). London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Pearce, C.M. (2011). A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Pearce, C.M. (2010). An Integration of Theory, Science and Reflective Clinical Practice in the Care and Management of Attachment-Disordered Children – A Triple A Approach. Educational and Child Psychology (Special Issue on Attachment), 27 (3): 73-86

Pearce, C.M. (2009) A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Posted in AAA Caregiving, Adoption, Attachment, early learning, Fostering, kinship care, Parenting, Training Programs, trauma informed care, trauma informed practice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment