Resiliency is one of the foundational theories on which Check & Connect is based. The research and science on resiliency continues to grow as outlined in the recent release of “Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience” from the Center in the Developing Child from Harvard University. This paper explains why some children are successful in the face of adversity, while others are not, and the biggest factor is the children who are successful have one caring adult in their lives. This new research supports what we already believe with the importance of a child having an adult that is committed to them by explaining the neuroscience of brain development that occurs through positive relationships during brain development. Clarity is also given that the development of the brain is dependent on not only genetics but also caring relationships, dispelling the idea that some kids are just “tough” while others are “weak.”
Four factors are explained that can counterbalance adversity experienced by children:
- having at least one caring adult,
- a sense of mastery over the situation,
- executive function/self-regulation skills, and
- a solid cultural grounding.
With the Check & Connect mentor as that caring adult, they can work on building the skills, providing resources and facilitating opportunities for students to build and grow in the areas of the other three factors.
Additionally, recommendations are given to apply this scientific knowledge to benefit students, including considering resiliency needs when selecting students for programming, enhancing “serve and return” interactions, developing specific skills for coping and decision-making, creating collaborative policies that reduce adversity, and focusing programs on facilitating resilience.
As a Check & Connect mentor, a.k.a. that caring adult in your mentee’s life, how can you promote and facilitate development of resiliency?
About the Author: Jana Hallas, M.Ed., is a project coordinator and member of the Check & Connect training team at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.
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