Heartache, adversity and failure can happen to anybody, at any age. But why do some people bounce back while others struggle? Scientists say the ability to adapt to challenges, or resilience, can be learned. And as Jessica Sanchez shows us in today's "positive parenting"
Parents play a large part in developing the skills kids need to be stronger than ever before. By the time these preschoolers turn eighteen, nearly half will have experienced serious trauma, like divorce, poverty, violence, or abuse. Trauma may have no external signs, so for teachers and counselors, it often means reading between the lines of bad behavior.
"When kids are disruptive. When kids are consistently aggressive, or have a lot of fear, says Lanail Plummer, a school counselor."
Kristin Anderson Moore is an internationally recognized social psychologist. She says chronic stress in the first few years of life slows down development. She adds, "of course the brain is developing in early childhood so trauma and challenges are particularly important for young children. But we have found that children can bounce back."
Research indicates a strong relationship with a parent or caregiver is key to building resilience. In one study, when confronted with a strange event, toddlers had less stress hormone activation if they had secure relationships with at least one adult. Moore says, "if they can show support, if they can provide a safe environment, and then help their child acquire the skills the child needs."
Those skills include the ability to plan ahead, regulate behavior, and adapt to change. Moore suggests parents listen carefully to a child's concerns. Then show them how to react. "For example, if a child does poorly in school the parent might go in and talk to the teacher and learn what is wrong. If it turns out to be reading, the parent might take the child to the library and take out books 3 and work on reading." Small steps with a big impact, helping prepare kids for success
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
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