Resilience cannot exist without hope. It is the capacity to be hopeful that carries us through challenges, disappointments, loss, and traumatic stress. - Bruce Perry
National Child Abuse Prevention Month provides an opportunity to share the importance of individuals and communities working together to keep kids safe and families healthy.
Reducing the effects of significant adversity on children’s healthy development is essential to the progress and prosperity of any society. Science tells us that some children develop resilience, or the ability to overcome serious hardship, while others do not. Understanding why some children do well despite adverse early experiences is crucial, because it can inform more effective policies and programs that help more children reach their full potential.
One way to understand the development of resilience is to visualize a balance scale or seesaw. Protective experiences and coping skills on one side counterbalance significant adversity on the other. Resilience is evident when a child’s health and development tips toward positive outcomes — even when a heavy load of factors is stacked on the negative outcome side.I
DCAC’s Critical Role
Denver Children’s Advocacy Center utilizes the key protective factors of Strengthening Families. Research studies support the common-sense notion that when these Protective Factors are well established in a family, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect diminishes. Research shows that these protective factors are also “promotive” factors that build family strengths and a family environment that promotes optimal child and youth development.II
No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but a parent’s capacity for resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress. Resilience is the ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with children, and knowing how to seek help when necessary. Sometimes the pressures parents face are so overwhelming that their ability to manage stress is severely compromised. This is the case with parents who grew up in environments that create toxic stress. III In these cases where the other four approaches need bolstering, DCAC refers parents for mental health treatment, including onsite intervention to treat mother and child together.
Friends, family members, neighbors and community members provide emotional support, help solve problems, offer parenting advice and give concrete assistance to parents. Networks of support are essential to parents and also offer opportunities for people to “give back”, an important part of self- esteem as well as a bene t for the community. Isolated families may need extra help in reaching out to build positive relationships. DCAC brings parents together with educators and caregivers, reducing family isolation and increasing the number of caring adults involved in each child’s life.
Concrete Support in Times of Need
Meeting basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing and health care is essential for families to thrive. Likewise, when families encounter a crisis such as domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse, adequate services and supports need to be in place to provide stability, treatment and help for family members to get through the crisis. DCAC helps parents and caregivers access vital community resources, such as health care, food, transportation, and other basic needs.
Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behavior at every age help parents see their children and youth in a positive light and promote their healthy development. Information can come from many sources, including family members as well as parent education classes and reliable internet resources. Studies show information is most effective when it comes at the precise time parents need it to understand their own children. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences may need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children. Children have been exposed to adverse experiences find it easier to cope when they understand why their child is acting out. Our experience tells us that they appreciate guidance on positive support discipline provided by DCAC’s highly qualified child development professionals.
Social and Emotional Competence of Children
A child or youth’s ability to interact positively with others, self-regulate their behavior and effectively communicate their feelings has a positive impact on their relationships with their family, other adults, and peers. Challenging behaviors or delayed development create extra stress for families, so early identification and assistance for both parents and children can head off negative results and keep development on track. DCAC focuses on family strengths and partnerships with parents. As the well-being of children depends upon the presence of well-regulated adults, we strive to surround the family with a network of support.
Please consider investing in building bright smiles & extraordinary minds today by making a donation to DCAC during National Child Abuse Prevention Month!
I. Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/
II. Center for the Study of Social Policy: http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengthening-families/2013/SF_Parental-Resilience.pdf