In a recently published article in Canada, Vicki Hazelwood, Co-ordinator at the Lethbridge Early Years Coalition captures the essence and key pillars of resilience simply and compellingly – particularly as it relates to fostering resilient children. Resiliency is the ability to adapt and cope constructively with difficult circumstances and “bounce back”. When children show healthy development in spite of adversity, they’re viewed as resilient.

But children are not born resilient. And when children are exposed to ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), it is even more challenging to achieve resiliency in them, which is essential for positive future outcomes.

Support within families plays a pivotal role in building resiliency, as do connections with caring others. “There is a great deal of research that shows the powerful impact coaches, teachers and other adults in the community, with whom children have a chance to build relationships, play a critical supportive role in building resilience,” writes Vicki Hazelwood, Co-ordinator at the Lethbridge Early Years Coalition.

Positive, reaffirming interactions with caring adults teach children simple skills of coping and responding in positive ways to adverse experiences, as well as ways to regulate their behavior and emotions, and defer gratification when that gratification does not help or serve them. Through these interactions and positive role-modeling, children internalize an adaptive approach that allows them to tap into skills and constructive behaviors when faced with stress or challenge that help them get through it constructively and to thrive.

According to the article, resilience in children can be fostered in a number of different ways, including:
• Giving them material resources as well as the stimulation they need
• Fostering stable and positive relationships between children and their parents as well as other caring, positive adults around them
• Instilling self-regulation skills that enable children to focus their attention, manage emotions, keep track of rules, keep their impulses in check, and control their behaviors in positive ways. Play and role play is a great way to foster these skills.
• Mitigating the degree of exposure to overwhelming adversities and “toxic” stress
• Lethbridge Early Years Coalition, in partnership with Family Centre, Building Brains Together and Lethbridge Public Library (in Lethbridge, Canada), hosted a resilience film showing and discussion on Jan. 29th to begin addressing within the community the science of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Effects), toxic stress, and helping foster resilience in children.

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SOURCE: To read the original articles, published online in the Lethbridge Herald on January 18th, go to: