“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
-Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Though the Childhood Experience Study (ACES) identifies overall exposure to stress, it cannot assess resilience, the capacity of individuals to respond to stress [1A].
“A decent self-image comes from somebody paying attention to you as a person and respecting everything you do.”
-Berry Brazleton, world-renowned pediatrician and child development expert [1B]
“At the top of the list is always the presence of some kind of supportive relationship.”
-Jack Shonkoff, Director, Harvard Center on the Developing Child [1C]
Our capacity to respond to adversity varies widely . Some of that capacity is genetic. Some of it involves choice – the determination to overcome obstacles. Some of it involves energy, effort, and tenacity.
Always at the heart of resilience, however, lies a caring relationship [1D]. Children abused by a parent may have a loving grandparent for a short while or a sibling who shares their suffering. That may be enough to keep them going.
“It only takes one person to teach a child to feel safe and how to regulate themselves, to make a difference in that child’s entire future.”
-Nadine Burke, Founder and CEO of Center for Youth Wellness [1E]
There is no question but that the world can be a dark and dangerous place.
When a parent’s ability to buffer the stresses a child encounters is impaired, the stress response of that child will be heightened [1F]. This passes the impairment forward another generation.
While no one can take a parent’s place, a concerned caregiver – a teacher, coach, or mentor – can help a child feel safe, give a child hope, and teach a child trust. Early intervention and counseling can strengthen resilience, ultimately making this a better world .
[1A – 1F] PBS, “Broken Places”, S1, EP1, https://www.pbs.org/show/broken-places/ .
 NPR, “Is Your Child an Orchid or a Dandelion? Unlocking the Science of Sensitive Kids”, 3/4/19, https://www.npr.org/transcripts/699979387.
 National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “The significance of early childhood adversity” by Clyde Hertzman MD, March 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680281/.
Part 1 in this series was posted 5/17/19.
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