Resilience: What is it and how do our families get some?

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Resilience is becoming a buzz word within childhood development circles. Many educators and researchers are intrigued by it as it seems to hold great potential for children to do well in life despite any adversities that they may face. Resilience for LGBTI families may be particularly relevant due to the challenges that many of us experience. In this post, Pink Families shares what resilience is and we highlight some of the factors involved.

What is resilience?

Resilience has been described as both a process and an ability.

The process involves adapting positively to a situation that involves adversity, sometimes significant adversity. It also involves the ability to maintain a steady balance in the face of these challenges. In essence, it is a process of effectively negotiating, adapting to, or managing significant sources of stress or trauma.

It isn’t a personality trait but rather it is a process that occurs within certain situations. Resilience can be observed when you see someone do well despite significant barriers, challenges or adversity.

For example, a child who does well despite having a significant physical impairment could be described as resilient. A child who flourishes even though they come from an impoverished background could be viewed as resilient. A family that experiences significant discrimination but yet they do well could also be described as resilient.

What factors contribute to resilience?

Three main factors contribute to resilience: individual characteristics, familial factors and community factors.

Individual factors

Having good physical health, a strong intellect, and being sociable and outgoing helps with resilience. Having an appropriate level of self-confidence and self-esteem also contributes to resilience. Positive mental health, strong coping skills and general optimism contributes to resilience.

Factors to do with families

Families that consist of close parental relationships, parents that are caring and parents that are able to provide structure ensure resilience. Parents that have reasonable expectations of their children help to build resilience in their children. Having sufficient economic resources also helps.

Community factors

Community matters when it comes to resilience. A child that knows that there are others in their community that care for them helps build their resilience. This can include good relationships with peers and teachers, for example. Having good access to support and strong social networks is also useful. For example, resilience can be enhanced by having a good and strong network of friends. Also for those in a same-sex relationship, legal recognition of their relationships has been shown to be supportive of resilience.

Enhancing resilience

Resilience is something that can be fostered within our children and within our families. Helping to facilitate a sense of belonging helps. Parents that are warm and caring are also instrumental in building resilience. Enabling self-confidence and esteem is also useful. Facilitating skills of independence and opportunities to demonstrate competencies also helps build resilience.

References

Fee RJ, Hinton VJ. Resilience in Children Diagnosed with a Chronic Neuromuscular Disorder. Dev Behav Pediatr 2011;32(9):644–650.

Gill Windle (2011). What is Resilience? A Review and Concept Analysis. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology 2011;21(2):152­-169.

Power JJ, Perlesz A, Schofield MJ, Pitts MK, Brown R, McNair R, Barrett A, Bickerdike A. Understanding Resilience in Same-Sex Parented Families: The Work, Love, Play Study BMC Public Health 2010;10:115.

In the video below an expert from Akrons Hospital (US) shares his top tips on how to build resilience in children.

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