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Building Resiliency in Children Carol Coussons de Reyes OCA Administrator DHHS Nebraska: Division of Behavioral Health.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Resiliency in Children Carol Coussons de Reyes OCA Administrator DHHS Nebraska: Division of Behavioral Health."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Resiliency in Children Carol Coussons de Reyes OCA Administrator DHHS Nebraska: Division of Behavioral Health

2 First let’s talk about stress Stress is a life event or situation that causes imbalance in a child’s life. Stress is experienced in many forms and varies by the individual child, the child's developmental level and the child's previous life experience.

3 Stressors can be:  Trauma  Loss of a loved one through death, divorce, or moving  Chronic abuse, neglect or poverty  Exposure to violence or war  Natural disasters such as fire, flood, or earthquake  Change in family composition  Change in schools  Parents disabled by physical or mental illness  Peer interaction

4 What Stressful Behavior May Look Like

5 In Preschoolers: Regressive behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking Fear of darkness, strangers or “monsters” Changes in eating habits or indigestion Bowel or bladder problems Complaints of unexplainable pains Fear of separation, especially from parents, or a fear of being left alone and abandoned Aggressive behavior or withdrawal Sleep disturbances, such as night terrors

6 In School-agers: Excessive clinging Crying or excessive sadness over the loss of a pet or a favorite object Sleep disturbance Irritability Headaches, nausea or complaints of vague aches and pains Aggressive behavior, withdrawal or hyperactivity An inability to concentrate Fear of noises Talking constantly about the experience

7 What is resilience about? Adaptation to: Trauma Death Divorce Natural Disasters Threats Poverty Maltreatment War Parents disabled by physical or mental illness APA, 2011; Masten, 1997

8 How Children Cope Resiliency is a “self-righting tendency." Children often have a natural ability to self- right or bounce back. The resilient child recognizes a stressful event, often responds emotionally, recoils temporarily, then bounces back and returns to a prior emotional state figuring-out in his own way what he can do to manage the difficult situation.

9 There needs to be a balance for children between stressful events and having enough protective buffers in place to help them cope. When stressors outweigh the protective factor, even the most resilient child can develop problems.

10 Trauma Must End Safety must be restored for resilience to begin ◦ In chronic child abuse ◦ In catastrophic events Masten, 1997

11 Teaching Children To Bounce Back When a child faces challenges, it's important to develop attributes of resilience. A caregiver can do this by………..

12 BUILDING EMOTIONAL STRENGTH When a child responds with fear, anger, disappointment or sadness, identify the emotion they are feeling and convey understanding or empathy. Observe the child until he returns to emotional stability.

13 ENCOURAGING COMMUNICATION Validate the difficulty of the child’s situation and convey confidence that he can figure out a way to manage the situation effectively. Don’t approach the child as the “victim.”

14 ENCOURAGING CHILDREN TO ASK FOR SUPPORT When troubles arise, encourage the older child to ask for help from a parent, family member, teacher, coach, clergy, friend, community support person or expert. When the child is able, suggest the child help others.

15 BUILDING PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS Once emotions subside and the child is ready to communicate, identify the situation and ask the child what he can do to solve the problem. Validate the child’s ideas and offer a few suggestions, but don’t dominate. Allow him to use his own resources to manage the situation, if appropriate

16 OFFERING AN OPTIMISTIC VIEW OF LIFE You being able to model is the most effective strategy. When problems arise, recognize them, but point out any silver lining in the troubled cloud. Help the child see that in time things will get better and life will again offer many moments of happiness!

17 STRATEGIES TO REDUCE STRESS AT HOME OR IN CHILD CARE  Reduce stress through a low-stress environment by providing social support, modeling problem-solving skills and by teaching children to anticipate stress and learning new ways to avoid it.  Offer self-expressive activities through art, sand/water play, block play, play dough or clay and  Dramatic play activities  Have an exercise station  Give children extra transition warnings and  support when necessary  Use a daily picture activity board so children can anticipate what the day's activities will include.

18 Activities for Parents Provide unconditional love Enforce rules & remove privileges when needed Model behavior in self Praise accomplishments Encourage independent exploration Acknowledge and assist in labeling of feelings Say “I know you can do it” Say “I’m here” Offer explanations with rules Encourage empathy and caring Encourage language for problem solving Encourage communication and sharing feelings Christle, Harley, Nelson, & Jones, 2011

19 Tips for Building Resilience in Children and Teens Teach friendship building skills (empathy, when others feel pain) Teach your child age appropriate volunteering Maintain a daily routine Teach distraction skills Teach self-care by example Teach your child goal setting Nurture a positive self-view Maintain a hopeful outlook Accept change as part of living APA, 2011

20 What is Resilience in the Face of Stressful Events? How children “make it” Manifestations of competence Ability to thrive, mature, & increase competence Does not mean unscarred Masten, 1997; Ohio State Bulletin, 2011

21 Cambodian Youth Holocaust Survivors in Minnesota Went to college Made friends Built lives Horrifying memories Jumpiness Times of great sadness Difficulty focusing Masten, 1997

22 Risk Factors  Any factor or combination of factors that increase the chances of an undesirable outcome affecting a person  They can be internal (within the individual) or external (involving the family, school, and community).  Some examples of internal risk factors are;  hyperactivity, concentration problems, restlessness, early involvement in antisocial behavior, and beliefs and attitudes favoring deviancy.  External risk factors include conditions in the environment, such as the home, school, and community. Some examples are; a single-parent household, family’s poverty.  School risk factors may involve overcrowding, a high student/teacher ratio, insufficient or inappropriate curriculum, and weak and inconsistent adult leadership.  Factors in the community that may cause risks for children are high levels of neighborhood disorganization, high mobility rates, few adults to monitor children’s behavior, and high levels of drug and gang activity in the neighborhood. Some examples of external risk factors Masten, 1997

23 Protective Factors The good news is that most children who grow up in families with many challenges do overcome the odds and manifest “resilience.” Resiliency may be explained by the presence of “protective factors,” those qualities or situations that help alter or reverse expected negative outcomes. Resiliency can be cultivated by providing and promoting these protective factors in a child’s life. Examples of protective factors; Average or better IQ Good attention skills Street smarts Self worth Self efficacy Feelings of hope Meaningfulness of life Attractiveness to others Talents valued Faith and religious affiliations Mentors outside the family Socioeconomic advantage Good schools Masten, 1997

24 Internal Protective Factors Protective factors can be internal (within the individual) Ability to take control Be proactive Decisiveness Responsibility for decisions Accept abilities & limits Goal directed Realistic about goals Know when to quit Positive outlook Know how much to push self

25 External Protective Factors external (involving the family, school, and community) Caring Relationships Positive & High Expectations Opportunities for meaningful participation Attachment to one proactive family member Sense of belonging Sense of purpose Told can & will be successful Positive safe schools High & achievable academic standards

26 Parents and Teachers: Protective Factors Parents can o Visit teacher and administrators o Encourage academic clubs o Advocate for child o Partner with teachers o Take care of physical/mental health o Give attention o Teachers can o Be a positive role model o Be trustworthy o Offer sincere interest o Give individual attention o Use of rituals Christle, Harley, Nelson, & Jones, 2011

27 GIVEN THE MANY CHALLENGES THAT PARENTS AND FAMILIES FACE TODAY Raising children to be physically and emotionally healthy can be a daunting task. Single parents, in particular, may need to reach out to schools and community agencies for assistance. You need to take care of your own physical and mental health in order to give your child the attention that he or she needs. Regardless of the particular challenges and risks that your family may be facing, to promote resiliency in your children keep in mind the three key themes: 1. caring relationships 2. positive and high expectations 3. opportunities for meaningful participation

28 Questions?


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