Are YOU the ONE?
Published by Maggi on Thu, 07/21/2016 - 10:22am
Have you ever worried about how kids overcome terrible experiences like sexual abuse?
The single most important predictor of a child’s ability to survive the unthinkable is at least ONE stable relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult!
Are you the one?
Of course, you are! Maybe you didn’t realize it yet!
When you give a kid a high five for doing their best at a sporting event, you are complimenting the child’s abilities. When you help a child with homework or read a book with them, you are strengthening their problem-solving skills. When you take a child to visit a museum or go to a concert, you are sharing important traditions. When you look a child in the eye and respond to their questions, you are showing the child he or she is valued. And every time you do this, whether you are a parent, coach, relative, teacher, or neighbor, you are tipping the scales in their favor. You are building resilience.
One way to understand the development of resilience is to visualize a seesaw or balance scale. The Center of the Developing Child at Harvard University explains that a child’s positive experiences and coping skills on one side counterbalance adversity and abuse on the other. To tip the scale toward resilience, a child needs:
- supportive relationships with adults,
- opportunities to develop a belief in their own abilities and worth,
- opportunities to strengthen problem-solving skills, and
- sources of faith, hope and cultural traditions.
The next best lesson is that the very things you do to build resilience in a child can also decrease the likelihood they will become a victim. Criminals are more likely to prey on children who are isolated, lonely, and neglected. When it is evident that children are reaching their full potential, supported by strong relationships in their family and community, the bad guys don’t stand a chance. You have tipped the scales toward positive outcomes for kids!
Over 100 children come to Dearing House every year for help coping with abuse. Every child who comes to Dearing House experiences a place where they feel important. Every child sees the team of strong adults working to protect them from further harm. Every child hears that they are brave and strong and will no longer face evil alone.
We see resilient kids every day. It was evident this week in 9-year-old Denise. She admitted to being nervous about having to talk about what happened to her, but in spite of describing multiple incidents of hideous abuse, her words to me were “This was not so bad.” I think she knew that the focus of everything we do here is about hearing, helping, and healing.