September 17, 2015
It's the time of year that often brings change and that can be challenging, even stressful. At first, changes can feel a bit tight like a new pair of shoes. Since parents cannot protect our children from the stressors of life (try as we might), what can we do? We can help our children build resilience, which is the ability to cope with change and adversity. In other words, since we cannot control everything that happens outside our children, it's wise to focus on building resilience within them so that a positive impact may result in spite of circumstances. The Devereux Institute for Resilient children conducts research that has tied resiliency in infants and toddlers to social and emotional well-being. When children can get their needs met, regulate their emotions and explore their world, they build resilience. According to the Institute, attachment, self-regulation and initiative are protective factors that lead to resilience. How can we provide these protections when a child is in a group program? Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects people across time and space. We encourage attachment at the Rose Garden by staggering enrollment of new children providing space and intention for each one to bond to their teacher. We are consistent in our rhythms so children trust us. We also provide continuity of care by transitioning children only once while they are at the Center. Initiative is the child's ability to problem solve or employ independent thought and attention to getting his or her needs met. We encourage the development of initiative by allowing the time and an environment conducive to freely exploring, where toys are easily within reach and open-ended so children bring their imaginations to playing with them. Self-regulation is the child's ability to control bodily functions, manage powerful emotions and maintain focus and attention. We encourage self-regulation with our steady rhythms, acknowledgement of children's emotions, and allowing children to attend to a task for a long period of time without interruptions. Given these parameters, children have the opportunity to gain resilience. Although it does not change what life brings (life happens on life's terms), it can change children so they have the ability to bounce back, to cope, to be resilient.