By Robert Brooks, Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.
If Beaver of Leave it to Beaver were alive today it is likely he would not be doing so well. The increased stress, pressure and demands placed upon youth might well result in Beaver experiencing multiple school and interpersonal problems. Yet the goals, dreams and wishes of Beaver’s parents and of previous generations are no different than of parents today. What is it most parents want for their children? Happiness, success in school, satisfaction with their lives and solid friendships quickly come to mind.
If we examine our parental goals it would not be an over-simplification to conclude that to realize these goals requires our children to possess the inner strength to deal competently and successfully day after day with the challenges and demands they encounter. This capacity to cope and feel competent is referred to as resilience. Resilience embraces the ability of a child to deal more effectively with stress and pressure, to cope with everyday challenges, to bounce back from disappointments, adversity and trauma to develop clear and realistic goals to solve problems, to relate comfortably to others and to treat oneself and others with respect. Numerous scientific studies of children facing adversity in their lives have supported the importance of resilience as a powerful insulating force.
Resilience explains why some children overcome overwhelming obstacles, sometimes clawing and scraping their way to successful adulthood while others become victims of their early experiences and environments.