Showing 19 posts in Resilience.
Numerous mental health studies suggest that one of the best ways to help children develop resilience and recover from adverse childhood experiences is for them to have a trusted confidante outside the family. Yet we also are told that to protect children from sexual abuse, we need to stay alert to signs that a sexual predator is grooming them. I worry sometimes that we are frightening ourselves out of allowing our children to establish beneficial relationships.
For those of us who work with children, it is difficult to know how to help children who have been abused. A recent study from Canada tells us that being a safe person for children to confide in may be one of the best things that we can do.
A pattern that shows up very often in studies of resilience is a high correlation between resilience and self-esteem. It would be very easy to conclude that, if we help children develop self-esteem, we can also increase their resilience. These studies, however, only measure correlation, not causation. Furthermore, other studies of self-esteem indicate that it comes not from adult encouragement or self-talk, but actual accomplishments. In other words, resilience may lead to self-esteem rather than vice-versa.
One of the most important, and difficult, ways that we can encourage resilience in children is to allow them unsupervised play time. Allowing children to have unsupervised time is extremely difficult in our hyper-protective society, but it is essential to helping children become resilient.
One of the better trends in the last decade of caring for children is the recognition that children need to develop resilience. In spite of our best efforts, all children will face setbacks and conflicts. They will be much better off if we spend our resources not on preventing all life difficulties but helping them learn how to bounce back.
One very important issue for youth-serving organizations is what factors help children recover from abuse or neglect. It is a complicated question, in part because children are at such varying developmental stages when they suffer maltreatment. A recent systematic review of several mental health studies offers possible factors that organizations can consider to help children overcome adverse experiences.
Youth-serving organizations that are conscientious about background checks often overlook another important resource for screening staff, namely state child abuse registries. Most states have some sort of registry that compiles substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect. While the registries often are not open to the public, organizations that serve minors usually have some sort of access to them.
An interesting study from the Yale Child Study Center that works with parents instead of their children is being hailed as “an innovative way to address an epidemic of anxiety disorders” in children. While the findings certainly challenge conventional wisdom, they are not all that new. My grandmother and her mother before her would have recognized the principles.
I almost missed a very important article in Psychology Today, describing the serious challenges that colleges face in dealing with students who lack resilience to deal with everyday life:
Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.
The author, Dr. Peter Gray, believes that this trend is a serious problem:
I just ran across an excerpt from a new book, “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” that I hope gets wide circulation. The author, Julie Lythcott-Haims, served as Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising at Stanford, and believes that helicopter parenting harms children. The part that caught my eye was an outline of recent mental health research suggesting that overly-protective parenting causes significant mental health problems:
- Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Child Abuse Registry
- Staff Training
- Child Protection Policies
- Protection Policies
- Internal Investigations
- Speaking Engagement
- Risk Avoidance
- Child Abuse
- Criminal Law
- Mental Health Research
- Public Policy
- Employment Issues
- Zero Tolerance
- Child Witness
- Day Care
- Expert Witness
- Litigation (Discovery)
- Mandated Reporter
- Personal Injury
- Youth Camps