The concept of resilience is not new, but defining it has always been a problem. So a number of international meetings have addressed the construct of resilience. It is the conclusions of these meetings, together with the literature, have led to the definition of resilience.
"Resilience is a universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimize or overcome the damaging effects of adversity."
An International Resilience Project, using this definition was set out to examine parents, care givers or children do that seems to promote resilience. To launch this study, an advisory committee made up of international organizations was formed comprising the Civitan International Research Organization, UNESCO, PAHO, WHO, International Children's Center, International Catholic Child Bureau and Bernard Van Leer Foundation.
Edith Grotberg has carefully categorized the findings drawn from this project into three main categories each having five parts. The categories are: I Have, I Am, I Can.
The I HAVE factors are the external supports and resources that promotes resilience. The resilient child says…
Parents, other family members, teachers, and friends who love and accept the child. Children of all ages need unconditional love from parents and primary care givers, but they need love and emotional support from other adults as well.
Structure and rules at home
Rules and routines include tasks the child is expected to perform. The consequences are clearly stated and understood. When rules are broken, the child is helped to understand what she/he did wrong and the child is encouraged to tell her/his side of what happened. The child is punished when needed and is then forgiven and reconciled with the adult. The parents do not harm the child in punishment.
Parents, other adults, siblings, and peers demonstrate how to do things. They are also models of morality and may introduce the child to the customs of their religion.
Encouragement to be autonomous
Adults, especially parents, who encourage the child to do things on her own and to seek help as needed, help the child to be autonomous.
Access to health, education, welfare, and security services
The child, independently or through the family, can rely on consistent services to meet the needs the family cannot fulfill-hospitals and doctors, school and teachers, social services, and police and fire protection.
The I AM factors are the child's internal, personal strengths. The resilient child says…
The child is aware that people like and love her/him. The child does endearing things for others that help make her/him lovable.
Loving, empathetic and altruistic
The child loves other people and expresses that love in many ways. She/he cares about what happens to others and expresses that caring through his actions and words.
Proud of myself
The child knows she/he is an important person and feels proud of who she/he is and what she/he can do to achieve it.
Autonomous and responsible
The child can do things on her/his own and accept the consequences of the behavior.
Filled with hope, faith and trust
The child believes that there is hope for her/him and that there are other people and institutions that can be trusted. The child feels a sense of right and wrong, believes right will win and wants to contribute to this.
The I CAN factors are the child's social and interpersonal skills. The resilient child says…
The child is able to express thoughts and feelings to others. She/he can listen to what others are saying and be aware of what they are feeling.
The child can assess the nature and scope of a problem, what she/he needs to do to resolve it, and what help is needed from others. The child can negotiate solutions with others and may find creative situations.
Manage my feelings and impulses
The child can express her/his feelings in words and behavior that do not violate the feelings and rights of others or herself/himself.
Gauge the temperament of myself and others
The child has insight into her/his own temperament, for example - how active, risk taking, reflective, and cautious she/he is and also, into the temperament of others. This helps the child to take appropriate action at the appropriate time.
Seek trusting relationships
The child can find someone - a parent, teacher, other adult or same-age friend-to ask for help, to share feelings and concerns, to explore ways to solve personal and interpersonal problems, or to discuss conflicts in the family.
Children develop over time at different rates and so some information may be appropriate for younger or older children not necessarily within their chronological age group. Important thing is that you promote resilience as a parent.