Resilience as described by many writers is a complex term and therefore needs to be understood in the context. Resilience is normally sought in the child, family and community (Phillips, G. 2008). As professionals, attending training courses helps us to seek something that may assist us in our understanding of those areas. This keeps us in seeking mood and all the time, we tend to keep attention outside ourselves. When we as practitioners recognise resilience in ourselves, we can them be able to facilitate resiliency, thereby linking theory to practice (Phillips, G. (2008).
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There are many definitions of resilience by different authors. In this context therefore, resilience is defined by Share and Lowlor (2009: 269) as ‘ability to thrive, mature and increase competences in the face of adverse circumstances’. Overall, when loved one’s absence or presence remains a mystery, meaning and purpose are essential to finding the health and life. After 9/11, some survivors believed that their loved one’s being in the Twin Towers at the time of the attack was predestined or God’s will. Many who believed this continue to trust in God to see them through their travels while they move forward with their lives (Boss, P 2006:97). Some characteristics associated with resilient children include cognitive proficiency (especially intellectual curiosity and problem solving), autonomy, good social skills and internal locus of control (Share and Lowlor (2009: 269).
‘Resilience is the capacity to transcend adversity – may be seen as the essential quality with care planning and provision should seek to stimulate as a key outcome of the care offered’ (Gilligan, R. 1997: 14)
It is suppressing how resilient people are despite having experienced high risk situation, such as war, disaster, loss, and adversity during childhood and adolescence (Waaktaar, T. Chrisrtie, H, J. Borge, A. Torgersen, S. 2004: 164).
Adult who promote resilience make family and institutional supports available to children. They empower children to become independent, responsible, and empathic at altruistic and to approach people and situation with hope, faith and trust (John, M. 1997: 24). However, adults can help children identify resilience behaviours more easily in themselves and others, such as using vocabulary to reinforce these feeling and beliefs that promote resilience and to guide their own children’s behaviour. Therefore, the greater their opinion for acting in the ways that help children met situation such as crisis in their lives with greater strength and hope John, M 1997: 26). Therefore, the most critical key to resiliency is the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time. Whatever part is taken, the search for the meaning is much more difficult when the loss is unclear (Boss, P. 2006: 97).
THREE THEORIES OF RESILIENCE
(1) The Child’s Sense of a Secure Base : The growth of a child is influenced by secure attachments which supply him/her with a reliable secure base (Bowlby 1988). Furthermore, it encourages and renders safe exploration of the child’s inner world. A young person’s sense of secure base therefore is cultivated by a sense of belonging within supportive social networks, attachment relationships to reliable and responsible people and by routine and structures in their lives (Gilligan, R. 1997: 15-16).
However, I HAVE factors is one of the external supports and resources that promote resilience in children according to John, M. (1997: 26-27). I HAVE factors includes: trusting relationships, (parents, other family members, teachers, and friends who love and have the interest and welfare of the child), structures and rules at home, (parents who provides rules and routine expects the child to follow them, for example, the task the child is expected to perform, when the rule is broken, the child is helped to understand what he/she did wrong). Others includes: access to health, education, welfare and security services which is available to the child.
(2) The Child’s Self Esteem: this is based on person’s sense of their own worthiness and competences. Rutter (1990) came up with two types of experience which is important in influencing self esteem in young children and they are, secure and harmonious love relationship, and success in accomplishing tasks by others as central to their interests. Also success in an endeavour which the person values may do much to combat a sense of failure in other spheres of one’s life (Rutter, 1990 cited Gilligan, R. 1997:17). Therefore, factors such as I AM are the child’s internal and personal strengths. These are feelings, attitudes, and beliefs within the child, for example, a resilient child would say: I am proud of myself: this means the child knows that he/she is an important individual and is proud of who he/she is and what he/she is capable of doing and can achieve. I am autonomous and responsible: the child can do a lot with his/her initiative and be responsible and accountable for his/her actions or mistakes. I am filled with hope, faith, and trust: the child knows and believes that he/she has hope and there are people and institution which he/she can trust and have faith in. Finally, the child will realise that he/she is loveable and his/her temperament is appealing, he/she is loving, empathic and altruistic (John, M. 1997: 28).
(3) Sense of Self Efficacy: this is a situation were parenting style influences whether a child acquires a sense of internal control with regards to attaining desired outcomes. Some factors which promote child’s self efficacy includes the parent / caregiver beliefs in the child’s own sense of control, responsiveness, consistency, warmth, praise, support and encouragement to the child’s to engage / participate in his/her environment (Sandler et al, 1989 cited Gilligan, R. 1997: 17).
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Moreover, I CAN factor helps to promote the child’s sense of efficacy because; it is the child’s social and interpersonal skills. Children acquire these skills by constant interaction with others and those who educate them, for example, a resilient child would say: I can communicate: at this stage, the child expresses thoughts and feelings, also be empathetic towards others. I can solve problem: the child can assess a situation of a problem, finds out what needs to be done to resolve the issues and if help is needed form others. Also I can manage my feelings and impulses; I can gauge the temperature of myself and others, and finally seek trusting relationship (John, M. 1997: 29).
PRACTICAL WAYS OF PROMOTING RESILIENCE
In promoting resilience, any work with children must be similarly in the contexts of their families, school, communities, and the large society (Grotherg, E, H. 2003: 5) Therefore, as a social care practitioner, it is important to know that we are only able to influence that portion of resilience that is amenable to influence through social experience. We cannot affect the degree of resilience that a person has temperamentally due to what they have inherited through their genes (Gilligan, R 2001: 6).
As a Social Worker, we can encourage purposeful contact between the child, the family, and other key adults for the child’s past, encourage positive school experience, encourage friendships with peers, actively foster interest, strong social network, involvement and talents in sports, music, hobbies or cultural pursuits, help the child to rehearse, and discuss problem solving and coping skills and strategies. Also, each of these I AM, I HAVE, and I CAN factors suggest numerous actions children, parent / caregiver, and practitioner can take to promote resilience (Gilligan, R. 1997: 18-21)
This Scenario was adopted from the International Resilience Project by Grotberg, E, H. (2003: 30)
A nine year old boy went out of the house even after his father told him not to go out. The father did not know about this until he realized it was late and the boy was not at home.
You will promote resilience if you talk to him when he returns and ask why he broke the rules (I HAVE); if you make clear that his behaviour is not acceptable even with his excuses, and that he is responsible for what he did (I AM); and if you talk with him about what needs to be done to prevent this kind of behaviour in the future (I CAN). He will learn from his experience to use resilience to face this adversity, to learn from it, and to behave in a more responsible way in the future. You do not promote resilience if you yell at him or spank him when he comes home, and accuse him of being a bad boy. Then you make him feel guilty, but resentful, and you have given him a label of ‘bad boy’, which will influence his idea of himself in the future. He will have difficulty dealing with a future adverse situation, even one that he creates, because he lacks resilience and none is being promoted.
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