As a part of the lecture series I was attending this fall, I went to a presentation on resilience. I was singularly disappointed. While there were two remarkable 20-somethings there to talk about their experiences (one as part of the gender issues presentation) and one 50-something physician/school counselor with her own story, the bottom line came down to a several-page handout that detailed what was needed for resilience in children.
The list had 100 items, some external to the child and some internal. But many of each of those are beyond intervention! It is all well and good to tell me that children with a higher number of those 100 things seem to be more resilient, but if there is no way to provide the at risk child with those items, then it is an exercise in futility and frustration. I found it maddening.
The discussion tried to talk about what was learned by the female 'example,' but given that (unsurprisingly) her sister has not found the same road, the success story tells us merely what worked for that one person and nothing that we can generalize from.
The following is from the US's National Institutes of Health:
Those attempting to describe and develop the construct of resilience have found that the ability to successfully cope with stress and adversity arises from the interaction of several elements in a child's life. These include the following:
* The child's biological makeup and internal characteristics, especially intelligence.
* The child's temperament and internal locus of control or mastery.
* The family and community environments in which the child is raised, especially the extent to which significant nurturing and supportive qualities are present.
* The number, intensity, and duration of stressful or adverse circumstances faced by the child, especially at an early age.
There is clearly suggestive evidence that each of these elements plays a role in a child's development of resilience. Further, some elements (e.g., the child's personality development) are amenable to intervention strategies, whereas others (e.g., the child's biological traits) are not. Because research on resilience is still in an early, descriptive stage, it is unknown how these elements act and interact with each other, either in children or in families (Garmezy, 1993), and many questions remain unanswered. For example, to what extent does resilience rely and build on biological traits, as opposed to learned patterns of behavior? Can everyone learn to be resilient, or must certain conditions be present? Can families and communities learn to be resilient, or only individuals?
This is akin to the line from a developmental study of gifted children that observed, "Traumatic events can have positive or negative affects on the lives of gifted children."
(this post was inspired by a recent post by siderea
that had a chart of Characteristics of Families (functional and dysfunctional). (The chart was not hers, just the post.)