Smart Kids Are Resilient

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity or trauma through intellectual and emotional strength. It is having confidence in one?s ability to resolve difficulties; and includes the executive functions of analysis, planning, logical thinking and problem-solving.

The focus in research, as commonly seen in theories proposed by Michael Ungar and Ann Masten, has centered on two main factors ? promoting well-being (i.e., Maslow?s Hierarchy), and protecting against risk, or trauma. Promoting well-being and protective factors involve personal attributes of the individual, close and caring family ties, and support from the community. When these three factors ? personal, family and community ? are positive and healthy, then there will be a stronger resilience level than if any of these is compromised. Having a spiritual as well as a social basis for understanding can also help children cope with stress.

The American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) defines resilience as the ability to make connections with others through family ties, friendships and community support. Teaching your children to set reasonable goals, and then move toward those goals in a step-by-step manner focuses them on planning and problem-solving as well as giving them a feeling of accomplishment when they?ve succeeded. This, in turn, instills positive self-esteem; and helps them to see things in a broader long-term context that enables them to see past difficult times to a more optimistic future.

Changes in life are inevitable, and not everything is going to be just the way we like it. Resilience means that we?re able to manage our own feelings and impulses so that we can make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out, even under duress. We can bounce back from failure, and move on with our lives. Helping our children be physically and emotionally secure gives them internal strength to be optimistic, keep things in perspective, set goals, and take decisive actions toward achieving those goals.