Child Development & Resiliency
As many have stated before, it takes a village to raise a healthy child. Parents and extended families, schools, clubs and the community at large all contribute in a number of ways to the mental health and emotional well being of children. This variety of influences is important in promoting the child’s overall growth and development and ultimately his or her successful transition into adulthood. As children make friends and learn to navigate the interpersonal challenges of peer groups, as they attend school and accept academic, social, physical and other challenges, as they become more aware of the bigger world around them, there are often bumps in the road. Sometimes, this can lead to emotional and behavioral changes which can be disruptive and concerning.
Resiliency, the ability to accept and overcome challenging or adverse circumstances, is a fundamental and natural characteristic which is essential to healthy development. Resiliency can be nurtured and supported by caring adults who take a strength-based approach to foster and empower a child’s efforts to cope with hardships.
In addition to helping a child develop self esteem and confidence, resiliency, along with other positive attributes and strengths, protects children from the risk factors in their environment. It has been shown that developing these protective factors is equally as important as eliminating or minimizing the risk factors. At times there can be an overemphasis on problem behavior, risk factors and pathology. This can divert the energy of caregivers from the development of a more strengths-based focus on fostering resilience and other protective factors.
There are numerous resources about child development, fostering resilience, and building developmental assets.
- What to Expect and When to Seek Help Bright Futures Developmental Tools for Families and Providers offers information about healthy development, parenting and signs of concern for all levels of child and adolescent development.
- Factsheet: What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health from Mental Health America
- Resiliency Resource Centre from the Mental Health Foundation of Australia. Offers information for parents, caregivers, schools and community to understand and foster healthy child development and resiliency.
- What Kids Need: Developmental Assets from The Search Institute. Provides information about Developmental Assets, or building blocks, which “represent the relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to avoid risks and to thrive”.
- Project Resilience offers a “strengths based approach to education, treatment and prevention for healthy child and adolescent development”.
- Child Development from the Center for Disease Control. Offers Positive Parenting Tips and other child development information.