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Define resilience

  • Rutter (1990): Resilience can be seen as maintaining adaptive functioning in spite of serious risk factors.
  • Wyman et al. (2000): Resilience can be defined as a child’s achievement of positive developmental outcomes and avoidance of maladaptive outcomes under adverse conditions.

Approaches to resilience research

  • Focus is on risk factors in development as well as protective factors. A risk (or protective) factor in psychosocial development could be the early relationships with caregivers as these relationships provide the foundations for developing secure attachments, feelings of self-worth, and regulations of emotions.
  • The child is seen as part of multiple systems where risk factors and protective factors are included in the overall understanding of development.
  • Focus on how to promote resilience by preventative interventions to help children at risk (e.g. parenting programs, academic programs, family support).
  • Wright and Masten (2006) claimed that resilience should not be seen as an individual trait. Individual resilience must be studied in the context of adversity and risk in relation to multiple contextual factors that interact (e.g. family, school, neighborhood, community, and culture) with individual factors (e.g. the child’s temperament, intelligence, and health).
  • Schoon and Bartley (2008) highlighted the importance of examining the factors and processes that enable individuals to beat the odds instead of focusing on “adaptive functioning of the individual” as this could lead to the misunderstanding that resilience is a matter of personality traits and that everyone can make it if they try hard enough. Such a dispositional approach can lead to blaming the victim of adverse circumstances. Instead, there should be a focus on how to promote resilience by removing obstacles and creating opportunities.