The Surprising Benefits of Resilience


To be resilient in todays’ world is a good thing – especially for children. Numerous studies have shown that when children are more resilient, they recover from life’s inevitable bumps and bruises much faster, even increasing their efforts after setbacks. But resilience goes much further than just bouncing back. Here are three other ways resilience helps children:

1. Enhancing the Action-Motivation Pathway.

Dopamine, the neurochemical most associated with rewards like getting a good grade, winning a game, or mastering a skill, peaks just after the reward is reached. But, what we are now learning about dopamine is that it also peaks just before the effort to reach that reward takes place – or more precisely, when we anticipate the reward (Numan & Stolzenberg, 2009). And no surprise, the more we actually reach our goals (and experience the rewards that come with them), the more we anticipate reaching future rewards, and the more dopamine is released in their anticipation. However, when the reward is challenging, or requires more effort than first thought, it’s resilience that keeps kids going. By causing them to redouble their efforts after setbacks, pursue their goals with continued fervor, and link the outcome to their efforts, resilience increases the chances that kids will not only reach the rewards they are after, but the many they will pursue in the future.

2. Building Mastery.

Mastery is the ability to improve our skills in the face of challenges long enough to believe that we have the competence to meet all of the demands the task presents us with. The road to mastery then, is paved with challenges, obstacles, setbacks, and a series of small wins that combine to create a larger, qualitative feeling of competence. Getting there requires the ability to pick ourselves up after each of these challenges and continue on long enough to overcome each and every one of them. Achieving mastery is, in many ways, resilience in action. And no time could this be more important than when children are learning and developing an attitude toward learning – one that either says achieving goals is possible with hard work, or one that says that goals cannot be reached, and pursuing them is fruitless.

3. Increasing Feelings of Internal Control.

When kids feel like their actions are in their control, it is much easier to see that it is not the events that happen to them that determine how they ultimately feel, but rather, how they respond to those events. When they internalize that they can choose how they respond, it is because they have learned that the outcome of goals – especially when setbacks arise – hinges upon the effort they put into those goals. If goals are not reached, it is not because someone else got in the way, or that the goals were out of reach, it is only because they needed to put in more effort. The difference is that kids with high levels of internal control do not look for external circumstances to change the outcome – that the game was rigged, the rules weren’t fair, etc. – but instead rely on their own efforts to reach their goals.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Building Resilience in your Young ClientBuilding Resilience in your Young Client is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a wide variety of resilience interventions that can be used in therapy, school, and home settings. It has long been observed that there are certain children who experience better outcomes than others who are subjected to similar adversities, and a significant amount of literature has been devoted to the question of why this disparity exists. Research has largely focused on what has been termed “resilience.” Health professionals are treating an increasing number of children who have difficulty coping with 21st century everyday life. Issues that are hard to deal with include excessive pressure to succeed in school, bullying, divorce, or even abuse at home. This course provides a working definition of resilience and descriptions of the characteristics that may be associated with better outcomes for children who confront adversity in their lives. It also identifies particular groups of children – most notably those with developmental challenges and learning disabilities – who are most likely to benefit from resilience training. Course #30-98 | 2017 | 53 pages | 20 posttest questions

Counseling Victims of Mass ShootingsCounseling Victims of Mass Shootings is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that gives clinicians the tools they need to help their clients process, heal, and grow following the trauma of a mass shooting. Sadly, mass shootings are becoming more widespread and occurring with ever greater frequency, often leaving in their wake thousands of lives forever changed. As victims struggle to make sense of the horror they have witnessed, mental health providers struggle to know how best to help them. The question we all seem to ask is, “Why did this happen?” This course will begin with a discussion about why clinicians need to know about mass shootings and how this information can help them in their work with clients. We will then look at the etiology of mass shootings, exploring topics such as effects of media exposure, our attitudes and biases regarding mass shooters, and recognizing the signs that we often fail to see. We will answer the question of whether mental illness drives mass shootings. We will examine common first responses to mass shootings, including shock, disbelief, and moral injury, while also taking a look at the effects of media exposure of the victims of mass shootings. Then, we will turn our attention to the more prolonged psychological effects of mass shootings, such as a critical questioning and reconsideration of lives, values, beliefs, and priorities, and the search for meaning in the upheaval left in the wake of horrific events. This course will introduce a topic called posttraumatic growth, and explore the ways in which events such as mass shootings, while causing tremendous amounts of psychological distress, can also lead to psychological growth. This discussion will include topics such a dialectical thinking, the shifting of fundamental life perspectives, the opening of new possibilities, and the importance of community. Lastly, we will look at the exercises that you, the clinician, can use in the field or office with clients to promote coping skills in dealing with such horrific events, and to inspire psychological growth, adaptation, and resilience in the wake of trauma. Course #31-09 | 2018 | 47 pages | 20 posttest questions

Active Listening: Techniques that Work for Children and ParentsActive Listening: Techniques that Work for Children and Parents is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that offers a valuable compilation of practical and ready-to-use strategies and techniques for achieving more effective communication through active listening. One of the fundamental tools of clinicians who work effectively with children and adolescents is the art of listening. Without this set of skills, clinicians are likely to miss essential pieces of information their clients are trying to communicate to them, whether with words or with behavior. When the word “active” is added to “listening” it alters and amplifies the communication process to include a dynamic feedback loop in which the speaker and the listener validate that each party has been accurately heard. Appropriate use of listening skills by a clinician can increase self-esteem in young clients and motivate them to learn. Using active listening skills, clinicians become more confident and manage their therapy and counseling sessions with a broader and mutually respectful dialogue. This course will teach clinicians how to employ innovative and practical communication and conversational skills in their individual and group therapy sessions with clients and their families, as well as in their working relationships with other professionals. These techniques can be applied to a wide variety of clinical, classroom and home situations, and case examples are included. Also included are sections on positive thinking and resilience, problem-solving skills, and the communication of emotion. Course #30-90 | 2017 | 70 pages | 20 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Target Audience: PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapist (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs)School Psychologists, and Teachers

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