Resilient Families PROSPER

What is resilience in the first place?  We’ve been hearing a lot about resiliency the past few years so let’s take a second to define it. Resilience has been described as strength in the face of adversity, being able to adapt to change, bouncing back from challenging times and sustaining one’s wellbeing (Stay Well LLC, n.d. & The Center for the Study of Social Policy, n.d.). Based on that definition, our resilience has been tested a lot in the past two years!  Just when we think that things are looking better and getting back to normal, we seem to take a step backwards in our journey through the pandemic. As such, we are continually trying to figure out how to navigate through all the disruptions, challenges, and changes. It is our resilience that helps us not only survive but thrive.  So, now that we understand the importance of resiliency, the real question becomes how do we know if we are resilient?

According to her research on the topic of resilience, Lucy Hone, a researcher at the New Zealand Institute of Well-being and Resilience, resilient people have three things in common in how they approach adversity. (TED, 2020 & The National Council on Behavioral Health, 2021). Resilient people, according to Hone:

ACCEPT that suffering is part of life and is a natural chapter in the human experience. If they ask, “Why me?” they don’t stay there. They move on toward dealing with the challenge. They have realistic expectations of themselves and the situation.

ATTEND to where they focus their energies. While they grieve and express emotions, they can keep their focus on positive actions, perhaps seeking to make something good come of the situation.

ASSESS their thoughts and actions frequently to ensure that their choices are helping them rather than hurting them.

So, is resilience something we are born with, or can it be learned?  Some inborne traits such as adaptability or persistence tend to lend themselves toward greater resilience. However, we can also increase our resilience through the development of skills and practices that help us weather life’s storms.  In other words, a person who does not like change can learn how to manage it despite their natural tendencies. Also known as “temperament traits”, these attributes are highly influenced by the environment which includes parenting. (Turecki, 2000)

There are some skills that form the foundation for resilience. Communication skills, healthy coping strategies, a sense of hope for the future, and a firm belief system create the base for taking action and making decisions when facing adversity. (National Alliance, 2012). Looking for a one-stop shop for developing these skills? Look no further than your local Strengthening Families Program: for Parents & Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14)! During SFP 10-14, parents and youth have many opportunities to practice these skills with their own peers.  The family sessions enable family units to share what they learned and define their own values around how members will interact, communicate, and support each other.  

When families are able to communicate their needs and listen to each other, they can reach out for the support they need.  Effective communication skills also help everyone to acknowledge and understand their own feelings and those of others.  Healthy coping strategies such as eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising and engaging in hobbies creates balance and wellbeing. Hope allows one to see possibilities for the future. A belief system that helps one find purpose and meaning brings a healthy perspective to circumstances, especially ones that are seemingly out of our control.

Whether helping a child prepare for kindergarten or building the skills necessary to navigate through life’s inevitable ups and downs, parents are their children’s first and best teachers.  Parents teach not only by what they say but also by what they do.  When parents model for their children how to deal with frustration or disappointment, children receive a life lesson on how to do the same.  

Just think of SFP 10-14 as your local hardware store- a place where one finds many tools to choose from and the instructions on how to use them. You also get the added benefit of  validation and developing relationships with other “homeowners” who are doing the same work!

References: 

TED. (2020, June 2). Three secrets of resilient people I Lucy Hone, Ph. D. (Video). YouTube. https://youtu.be/NWH8N-BvhAw

The National Council for Behavioral Health, (Jan. 19, 2021). Stay hopeful during COVID-19.www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/external/2021/01/stay-hopeful-during-covid-19

StayWell, LLC.(n.d). The power of resilience. Retrieved Feb. 11, 2021 from https://healthadvocate.personaladvantage.com/portal/content/10047448;subject=10003723

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (n.d.) Building resilience in troubled times: a guide for parents. Retrieved Feb. 27, 2020 from https://cssp.org/building-resilience-in-troubled-times-a-guide-for-parents

The National Alliance for Children’s Trust Funds www.ctfalliance.org/

Turecki, Stanley, M.D. and Tonner, Leslie. (2000). The Difficult Child. Bantam Books: New York. 

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