Occupational Therapy Helping Children in recent years have had an increase in referrals for building resilience in children or what is known in the Occupational Therapy world as “social competence and emotional regulation”.
Why Is Resilience Important?
Children who have happy and fulfilling lives have positive life skills that help them grow through life’s challenges rather than being damaged by them.
What Does A Resilient Child Look Like?
It is when children have the social, emotional and motivational capacity to engage well in life. It is building on a child’s confidence, persistence, and organisation and getting along with others. For example, the child will have the ability to “bounce back”, accept one’s self, do their best, take safe risks, play by the rules, be tolerant, understanding and respectful. The key to resilience is belonging, as it combats feelings of alienation and loneliness.
Research consistently shows that resilient children tend to display the following attributes:
- Social competence; form close, supportive ties with others
- Problem-solving skills
- Autonomy; ability to regulate emotions/feelings
We know that not all children are born resilient and that is where Occupational Therapy comes in, as these skills can be learnt over time and with the right strategies. When doing therapy, our team is working hard at supporting change in children from embodying the negative of “I can’t do” to transiting to the optimistic view of “I have, I am, I can” (Grotberg, 1995).
A research-based, practical resilience-building tool that can be easily used by anyone is called the Resilience Donut. This framework was made by clinical psychologist Lyn Worsley and is outlined in her book, “The Resilience Donut: The Secret of Strong Kids”.
The Resilience Donut has two parts:
1. The hole in the middle, which symbolizes the child’s key beliefs that develop as they build the tools and resources, they need to conquer the world. These beliefs are concerned with 3 areas:
External supports and resources, awareness of those who support them. Developing a foundation, a core of safety and security (who I have).
For example, I have:
- people around me I trust and who love me, no matter what
- people who set limits for me so I know when to stop before danger/trouble
- people who show me how to do things right by the way they do things
- people who want me to learn to do things my own way
- people who help me when I am sick, in danger or need to learn
Children need to “I have” in order to develop “I am” and “I can”.
Internal, personal strengths: feelings, attitudes, beliefs. How they view themselves (who I am).
For example, I am:
- likeable and loveable
- loving, caring, and unselfish
- respectful of myself and others
- proud of myself
- independent and self-directed
- willing to take responsibility for myself
- filled with trust and hope this supports self-esteem
Social and interpersonal skills learned. The degree of confidence they have in their own abilities (what can I do).
For example, I can:
- talk to others about things that frighten/bother me
- find ways to solve problems
- control myself when I feel like doing something not right/dangerous
- judge the character/temper of myself and others
- figure out when is a good time to talk to someone/take action
- seek trusting relationships
This supports self-efficacy
2. The donut is split up into 2 sections; each section represents the peripheral factors in the person’s life. When reviewing the research, it found that the below seven factors repeatedly show up in the lives of resilient people.
The 7 factors are:
- The Parent Factor: characteristics of strong and effective parenting.
- The Skill Factor: evidence of self-competence.
- The Family and Identity Factor: where family identity and connectedness are evident
- The Education Factor: the experience of connections and relationships during the learning process
- The Peer Factor: where social and moral development is enhanced through interactions with peers.
If you are needing further information or support in developing resilience in your child please contact email@example.com for a consultation with one of our brilliant Occupational Therapists.
Click here for further information on The Resilience Donut.
Grotberg, E.H. (1995). A guide to promoting resilience in children: Strengthening the human spirit. Retrieved from http://resilnet.uiuc.edu/library/grotb95b.html#chapter1