resilient children

I just read more about being resilient children. I would like to add some important points to previous blogs I have written about it in relation to children and trauma (if you would like to read the entire article I read please click on the LINK). What would it look like if we could somehow protect small children against trauma the way we vaccinate for tetanus or chicken pox? I wish it were that simple. Public health experts know that much of what makes adults unhealthy has roots in childhood, in the adversities that children experience as they are growing up — the absence of a parent, unstable housing, or a family member’s problems with drugs or alcohol can show up later as diabetes, drug and alcohol use, obesity, cancer and anxiety. The connection between childhood and later health has been well documented in many studies.

Research about Resilient children

A growing body of research has looked at people who face adversities in childhood yet somehow grow up without serious problems or illnesses, they become resilient children. A number of factors seem to help those children thrive, but many researchers say one factor stands out as the best possible protection against poor health: the presence of a consistent, caring relationship early in life.

Of course, a loving relationship can’t be prescribed in a doctor’s office, but experts say there are proven means of making those connections more likely to develop in families. If, as a society, we really want to promote better health and fix the causes of social ills like addiction and chronic illnesses, we must go back  to the very start of the lives we want to
improve.

Researchers suspect that childhood stress essentially embeds in immune cells, prompting long-lasting changes to how genes are expressed and causing the body to go into a chronic inflammatory state. That is increased by hormonal effects that make it harder for people to regulate their emotions, increasing the likelihood that, as adults, they’ll find themselves in stressful situations and engage in unhealthy behaviors.

Reverse the trend

There are factors that can help reverse these trends and bring about resilient children . A 2011 study found that among adults who grew up in poverty, those who experienced high levels of maternal care as children had lower systemic inflammation and reduced immune response to challenges. They suggested that having that kind of relationship may actually biologically protect people from health consequences, including depression, later in life.

Dr. Hays-Grudo, a George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair in Community Medicine at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Community Medicine in Tulsa has conducted research on social determinants of health. “When children feel safe, especially in the first three or four years of life, they learn that they can trust their environment,” she said in an interview. “They learn from their parents that they can trust other people, and they see the world as a safe and welcoming place where they can learn. Part of what they learn is to self-regulate, to not panic.”

One exciting program that was mentioned in this article is being developed by Hays-Grudo and her colleague Amanda Morris. They are working on a questionnaire that measures protective and compensatory experiences, or PACEs, that could buffer the negative effects of adversity, based on resiliency research. The first question is “Did you have someone who loved you unconditionally?”

A leading advocate that I have blogged about before is Dr. Burke Harris. One quote that especially resonates with me is: “We have the capacity to fundamentally change our society when we do early detection”. The Centers desire and prayer is to be part of this process in the Phoenix area. If you and your child are struggling with trauma please give us a call at 602-325-1233.

If you would like to read more about the Center and resiliency please click on the link.

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