By: David Sexton, Jr.
What is Resilience?
Beardslee et al. (2010) describe resilience as a child’s ability to endure stressful situations in their environment, such as depression, mental, or physical illness of a parent or parents, poverty, or violence in one’s community. Marsten (as cited in Beadslee et al., 2010) elaborates by explaining that resilience is a natural phenomenon that children display as a result of innate childhood curiosity, relatability to others, and drive to survive and thrive despite profound obstacles.
Characteristics of Resilience
Beardslee et al. (2010) break down resilience into four levels: Individual, family, school, and community. Resilience was displayed by children with a depressed parent through their ability to be successful in spite of the effects of that stressor. At the individual level, qualities indicative of success were the ability to complete activities related to their age, such as going to school. In addition, these children were able to engage with and relate to significant individuals in their lives, such as a parent, siblings, and peers, and also understand their home lives. Specifically, these children understood that their parent had a mental illness, this fact was not their fault, and they were free to live their lives in spite of their parent’s illness.
Resilience at the family level was represented by a deep commitment from parents to their children, in spite of their hardships, demonstrated by a drive to care for their children at the cost of anything else. At the school level, resilience was displayed through care provided by schools and other institutions in a child’s life providing support for those going through hard times. Finally, resilience at the community level is characterized by building communities that are safe and supportive of their members. Promotion of high quality, early childhood education programs are also indicative of resilience at the community level.
What Specific Challenges are faced by Military Children?
Military children face a variety of unique challenges in their home lives that can cause significant stress. Mogil (2017) identifies several challenges that military families face that demonstrate the need to foster resilience in military children, especially. Children of military parents may experience separation frequently and for long durations. In addition, the absence of the military caregiver may result in altered responsibilities for the child, such as the need to care for a younger sibling and detection of higher levels of stress displayed by their parent at home. Finally, some returning military parents may be affected by combat, mentally or physically, and some may not return at all. As such, promotion of resilience in military families is crucial to the mental and physical health and well-being of military children.
Want to Learn More?
To learn more about resilience and how it can be fostered in military children, please take some time to watch the MFLN Family Development Team’s free, archived webinar, presented by Catherine Mogil, Psy.D., Assistant Clinical Professor at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the David Geffen School of Medicine. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and serves as the Director of Training and Intervention Development for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center. Her recent research focuses on developing effective interventions for children and families in high-stress environments. FREE CEUs are available upon completion.
Beardslee, W.R., Avery, M.W., Ayoub, C.C., Watts, C.L., & Lester, P. (2010). Building Resilience: The Power to Cope with Adversity. Zero to Three. Retrieved from: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/357-building-resilience
Mogil, C. (2017). From diapers to diplomas: Exploring resilience in military children. MFLN Family Development. Retrieved from: https://dev.militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/event/27283/
This post was written by a member of the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.