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Building Resilience in Children
~ Define resilience
~ Explore characteristics of Resilient People
~ Identify how to help people become more resilient
~ Highlight activities which can help people deal with unpleasant events when they happen
The Art of Resilience
~ Resilience is a process or lifestyle that enables people to bounce back in the face of adversity
~ “a dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity” (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000)
~ Resilience develops over time as people are exposed to, and successfully navigate, stressors
~ We can help children by allowing them to try…and sometimes fail
Resiliency Theory
~ The central principles of the theory include
~ Risk factors and vulnerabilities
~ Protective factors/mechanisms
~ Risk factors and mechanisms are the events or conditions of adversity that cause distress in early life
~ Poverty
~ Prematurity
~ Residential mobility / lack of family or community ties
~ Addicted or dysfunctional family environment
~ Illness (cancer, M.S., chron’s disease)

The Art of Resilience
~ Vulnerability factors are individual traits, genetic predispositions, or environmental and biological deficits which may cause heightened response, sensitivity, or reaction to stressors.
~ Cognitive impairment (including FASD)—Early steps
~ Lack of social support– Social skills
~ Emotional dysregulation –Distress tolerance & Mindfulness
~ Ineffective coping skills –Coping skills
~ Mood or addictive disorders in the person –Screening and early intervention
~ Poor physical health (pain, nutrition, hormones, sleep) –Wellness behaviors, health education

The Art of Resilience
~ Protective factors and mechanisms are things which enhance or promote resistance, or which may moderate the effect of risk factors.
~ Rutter (1987) suggests that protective mechanisms may operate in one of four ways to allow overcoming adversity:
~ Reducing risk impact
~ Reducing negative chain reactions to risk factors
~ Promoting resiliency traits
~ Setting up new opportunities for success.
The Art of Resilience
~ Fergus and Zimmerman (2005) identified two types of protective factors.
~ Assets are positive factors that reside within individuals, such as:
~ Self-efficacy and self-esteem
~ Social competence and communication skills
~ Resources refer to factors outside individuals, such as:
~ Social support
~ Opportunities to learn and practice skills
~ Wellness programs that support biological health
Make Every Moment a Learning Opportunity
~ Practice mindfulness with your children at breakfast and before bed
~ When they are upset
~ Empathize
~ Comfort and help them de-escalate
~ Process
~ In young children, provide advice and role play
~ In older children, brainstorm possible reactions for the future
6-Cs of Resilience
~ 6-Cs
~ Coping
~ Control
~ Character
~ Confidence
~ Competence
~ Connection (resource)

Characteristics “Assets” of Resilient People
~ Coping: Can effectively balance negative and positive emotions and manage strong impulses.
~ Emotion Regulation / Prevent or mitigate vulnerabilities
~ Daily mindfulness
~ Screening and early intervention for DD/LD
~ Structure at home (Sleep, nutrition)
~ Distress Tolerance
~ Poster on the fridge and bedroom (and classrooms)
~ Problem Solving Skills
~ Focus on facts and what you can change
~ Remain aware of resources
Characteristics “Assets” of Resilient People
~ Character
~ Who are you, and who and what is important to you?
~ What things can you change in this situation?
~ The situation?
~ Your reaction to the situation?
Characteristics “Assets” of Resilient People
~ Control/Autonomy: Belief in your ability to act independently to exert some control over one’s situation
~ Purposeful Action: Make realistic plans for a meaningful life based on what is important to you
~ Take the steps necessary to achieve goals
~ Notice positive, forward moving thoughts and behaviors in yourself and others
~ Confidence in one’s strengths and abilities
~ What are your strengths?
~ In what ways does your response [to this stressor] make sense?
~ How did you get through similar situations?
~ What helpful or self-defeating thoughts are you telling yourself?
Characteristics “Assets” of Resilient People
~ Competence
~ Ability to mitigate emotions and successfully problem solve
~ Focus on what you did correctly and prior successes
~ Practice saying no and asking for help. (Social competence)

Building Competence
~ Get out of your own way– Allow yourself to take chances
~ Notice, praise and critique
~ Strive for authentic success
~ Act in the wise mind
~ Stop lecturing and second guessing yourself
~ Rely on assistance and feedback from others to help meet new challenges
Resources of Those with Resilience
~ Think Maslow
~ Safe environment
~ Financial stability (food, housing, medical care)
~ Connection/Social Support
~ To self and goals (authenticity)
~ To others

Psychological Flexibility for Kids

~ What do I want to do?
~ Why do I want to do that?
~ Does that use my energy for things that are important to me?
~ What parts of this situation are within my control?
~ Are there other, better uses for my energy that will help me be happier?
Activities to Develop Resilience
~ Enhance relationships with social supports
~ See crises or stressful events challenges or opportunities
~ Practice radical acceptance
~ Develop realistic goals and move towards them
~ Take decisive actions in adverse situations
~ Look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle
~ Develop self-confidence
~ Keep a long-term perspective, considering the event in the big scheme
~ Maintain a hopeful outlook
~ Care for one's mind and body (Mindfulness, Vulnerability prevention)
~ Eliminate drains on your energy reserves (stay inflated)

Handling Unexpected Crises & Unhappy Events
~ Hardiness (Kobasa 1979)
~ Commitment: Commitment to various areas of life results in a sense of purpose that can carry a person through turbulent times
~ Commitment Wall
~ Control: Understanding what is and is not within one’s control. Thoughts, reactions, behaviors, environment
~ Challenge: Viewing the situation as a challenge instead of a threat, accepting that change is a normal part of life.
Handling Unexpected Crises & Unhappy Events
~ Bolster your reserves
~ Positive health behaviors
~ 9-10 hours of sleep for children under 18
~ Eat healthyfully
~ Recreation
~ Relaxation
~ Purposeful action / Avoid wasting energy
Handling Unexpected Crises & Unhappy Events
~ Have a crisis plan
~ Emotional regulation (Get in the wise mind)
~ Does staying miserable serve a purpose?
~ Redirect anger/fear impulses metaphorically
~ Rip him a new one
~ Run away
~ Get something off your chest
~ Practice radical acceptance and distress tolerance
~ Identify and address the problem / Create a happiness plan
~ Time management
~ What must be done?
~ Social support
~ Make boundaries acceptable

Handling Unexpected Crises & Unhappy Events
~ Learned Resourcefulness (MacGyver)
~ When efforts to change something is successful, then expectations are often generalized to other situations
~ Aspects
~ Representation: What needs to be done?
~ Evaluation: What are my options? Can I do this? What resources or assistance might I need? When have I succeeded at something similar?
~ Action
Handling Unexpected Crises & Unhappy Events
~ Self-Efficacy
~ Focus on previous successes (success scrapbook)
~ See others who are similar and have succeeded
~ Michael Jordan was cut from HS varsity squad
~ Nobody would hire Walt Disney and his first company went bankrupt
~ Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC film school twice (and was later awarded an honorary degree)
~ Oprah was fired as a TV anchor
~ See more at
~ Elicit positive self talk and supportive statements from others
~ Manage physiological arousal (radical acceptance and distress tolerance)
Steps to Happiness When Life Sucks
~ Support others
~ Take stress breaks
~ Remember your comebacks
~ Identify your strengths
~ Identify your resources
~ Take care of yourself physically
~ Radical Acceptance and New Beginnings
~ View adversity as an opportunity for growth
~ Practice optimism
~ Focus on small positive changes
Steps to Happiness When Life Sucks
~ Focus on what you can control
~ Change the situation causing the distress
~ Control the meaning of the situation: Severity, importance, personal responsibility
~ Control the stress response
~ Relaxation
~ Exercise
~ Verbal or written expression

~ Resilience is the learned art of bouncing back in the face of adversity
~ Early risk and vulnerability factors may have prevented clients from developing necessary protective skills and resources
~ Programs aimed at preventing risk factors or mitigating their impact help build resilience
~ Encourage people to develop resilience within themselves at least once a day. “What did I do well?”
~ 6-Cs
~ Competence
~ Confidence
~ Character
~ Coping
~ Connection
~ Control
~ Life Span and Resiliency Theory: A Critical Review Alexa Smith-Osborne. Advances in Social Work. Vol 8, No 1 (2007)
~ Resiliency Theory. Marc A. Zimmerman, PhD. Health Education & Behavior. Vol 40, Issue 4, pp. 381 – 383
~ Resiliency: A Key Element for Supporting Youth At-Risk. Martin L. Krovetz Issues in Alternative Education. Pages 121-123.
~ Resilience Theory: Theoretical and Professional Conceptualizations. Roberta R. Greene PhD. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. Volume 8, Issue 4, pg. 75-91.
~ Resiliency Theory: A Literature review. Adrian DuPlessis VanBreda. Oct. 2001.
~ Building Resilience in Children and Teens by Kenneth R Ginsburg, MD. American Academy of Pediatrics. 398 pages.