Resilience Essay

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Michael was born prematurely to teenage parents and by eight had three siblings, divorced parents and his mother had abandoned the family. Mary was born to an overweight mother who emotionally and physically abused her, and a father with just four years formal education. Both children described in these examples from Werner (1999), despite sub-optimal childhoods, developed into successful children and adults with high self-esteem and other positive attributes. These do not highlight ‘invulnerable’ children who possess extraordinary qualities but children with an ordinary, common process arising from normal human adaptational systems (Masten, 2001). This process is known as resilience, the ability to adapt positively in the face of adversity (Richaud, 2013), which often emerges in childhood (Masten & Tellegen, 2012). The psychological study of resilience seeks to understand how some children develop well despite exposure to risk factors such as natural disasters or poverty, which increase the likelihood of negative outcomes like psychological disorders and low self-esteem (Slater & Bremner, 2011). Panter-Brick and Leckman (2013) comment early theories focused on ‘casualties’ and implied negative outcomes are inevitable following adversity. Modern research has shifted towards enhancing capability; focusing on those who emerge from adversity positively, the ‘survivors’, has led to identification, and understanding of, numerous determinants known as protective factors, which interact to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes (Richaud, 2013). This essay will address how and why certain children develop positively in the face of adversity, discussing numerous protective factors and how they influence child outcomes. Slater and Bre... ... middle of paper ... ...matrix of genetic, personal and environmental factors (Bonanno, 2004; Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009). An easy temperament, flexibility and positive emotions aid the creation of supportive relationships and enable children to reappraise negative situations (Bee & Boyd, 2009). Strong relationships with caregivers provide effective coping strategies (Reed et al., 2012) while communities facilitate the development of the resources required for resilience (Ungar, 2011). Each protective factor provides a pathway to resilience by arming children with the assets they need to fend off negative outcomes by reappraising situations and finding positive meanings; which factors are more important depends on interactions between the child and environmental circumstances but the more protective factors, the greater the likelihood of developing resilience (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009).

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