I subscribe to an email newsletter from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The center attempts to do four things:
* Building a unified science of health, learning, and behavior to explain the early roots of lifelong impairments;
* Leading the design, implementation, and evaluation of innovative program and practice models that reduce preventable disparities in well-being;
* Catalyzing the implementation of effective, science-based public policies through strategic relationships and knowledge transfer; and
* Preparing future and current leaders to build and leverage knowledge that promotes the healthy development of children and families and brings high returns to all of society.
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University also collaborates with six other entities that share the common belief that “healthy child development is the foundation of economic prosperity, strong communities, and a just society” (Key Concepts, n.d.). Those six groups are:
*Frontiers of Innovation
*Global Children’s Initiative
*National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs
*National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
*Science of Adversity and Resilience
*Students, Education, and Leadership Development
In their March 2015 email newsletter, there’s a new working paper #13 called Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience.
Based on a personal experience, and now professional interest, I am interested in how children and adults are resilient toward certain experiences, and why others are able to respond constructively to adversity. Their working paper #13 tells that there are two reasons for people’s resilience or the lack of resilience.
It does not quite matter what kind of adversity such as poverty, parental substance abuse, parental mental illnesses, stresses of war, or chronic neglect, “the single most common finding is that children who end up doing well have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships provide the personalized responsiveness, scaffolding, and protection that buffer children from developmental disruption” (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2015, p.1).
The caring adult who has a close relationship with a young child would need to provide a personalized responsiveness that could include a discussion about the specific incident that prompt the discussion.
The paper also suggested that we could strengthen children’s responses to adversity “through the development of explicit skills and capabilities that support cognitive flexibility, goal-setting, problem-solving, and the ability to resist impulsive behavior” (p.5). In one of my class observations of a NAEYC-certified child development center, I will never forget how their lead teacher talked with children ages 3-4 who become a bit rowdy and started running around the room. She got down to children’s level and asked them if they remembered the rules. She also asked them if they knew why they had such rules. When one of the children replied, she assured them that, yes, the behavior can get other people hurt and that we run only when we are outside.
What a way to teach children explicit skills. She was giving them tools for self-regulation.
Ultimately, the paper had four suggestions for potential policy and programs. “All prevention and intervention programs would benefit from focusing on combinations of the following factors: 1) facilitating supportive adult-child relationships; 2) building a sense of self-efficacy and perceived control; 3) providing opportunities to strengthen adaptive skills and self-regulatory capacities; and 4) mobilizing sources of faith, hope, and cultural traditions” (p.10).
Key Concepts: Activities. (n.d.). Center on the Developing Child: Harvard University. Retrieved March 2015 from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/activities/
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive relationships and active skill-building strengthen the foundations of resilience. Center on the Developing Child. Retrieved March 2015 from: file:///Users/marlahatrak/Downloads/Working%20Paper%2013%20-%20Resilience%20(1).pdf