How People Learn to Become Resilient

How People Learn to Become Resilient

by Maria Konnikova, newyorker.com

 

Perception is key to resilience: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as a chance to learn and grow? Photo by: Illustration Gizem Vural

Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Each day, he would arrive at school with the exact same sandwich: two slices of bread with nothing in between. At home, there was no other food available, and no one to make any. Even so, Garmezy would later recall, the boy wanted to make sure that “no one would feel pity for him and no one would know the ineptitude of his mother.” Each day, without fail, he would walk in with a smile on his face and a “bread sandwich” tucked into his bag.

The boy with the bread sandwich was part of a special group of children. He belonged to a cohort of kids—the first of many—whom Garmezy would go on to identify as succeeding, even excelling, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. These were the children who exhibited a trait Garmezy would later identify as “resilience.” (He is widely credited with being the first to study the concept in an experimental setting.) Over many years, Garmezy would visit schools across the country, focussing on those in economically depressed areas, and follow a standard protocol. He would set up meetings with the principal, along with a school social worker or nurse, and pose the same question: Were there any children whose backgrounds had initially raised red flags—kids who seemed likely to become problem kids—who had instead become, surprisingly, a source of pride? “What I was saying was, ‘Can you identify stressed children who are making it here in your school?’ ” Garmezy said, in a 1999 interview. “There would be a long pause after my inquiry before the answer came. If I had said, ‘Do you have kids in this school who seem to be troubled?,’ there wouldn’t have been a moment’s delay. But to be asked about children who were adaptive and good citizens in the school and making it even though they had come out of very disturbed backgrounds—that was a new sort of inquiry. That’s the way we began.”

Resilience presents a challenge for psychologists. Whether you can be said to have it or not largely depends not on any particular psychological test but on...(click here to continue reading)



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in ThinkerNation - Blog

How the First Lady of Islam set an example for generations to come
How the First Lady of Islam set an example for generations to come

The public perception of Muslim women is one of stubborn stereotypes: supposedly powerless and oppressed, behind walls and veils, demure, voiceless and silent figures, discriminated and bereft of even basic rights.

Contrary to this general belief, Muslim women have held the flag of enlightenment throughout history. The early Muslim community recognised and honoured a wide spectrum of female roles and responsibilities. A mother was considered the first school for her children. In Islam, a woman is seen as an individual in her own right, an independent entity, and not a shadow or adjunct to her husband or any other man. Islamic history abounds with women, both past and present, who have achieved and contributed significantly to intellectual and cultural life in the Islamic world.

One such iconic female figure was Khadijah bint al-Khuwaylid (565-623), the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), whom she met when she was the widow of a wealthy merchant and was herself a highly successful and respected businesswoman.

Khadijah was the daughter of...

Read More

How To Raise A Moral Child
How To Raise A Moral Child

What does it take to be a good parent? We know some of the tricks for teaching kids to become high achievers. For example, research suggests that when parents praise effort rather than ability, children develop a stronger work ethic and become more motivated. Despite the significance that it holds in our lives, teaching children to care about others is no simple task. Are some children simply good-natured — or not?

Read More

Why it’s good to have a strong-willed child, and why you should let up on them
Why it’s good to have a strong-willed child, and why you should let up on them

There are plenty of times when parenting a strong-willed, sometimes disobedient child is a difficult, exhausting endeavor, it turns out there are plenty of benefits to a little bit of naughtiness or disobedience. Research shows that disobedient children earn more as adults and are also more likely to be entrepreneurs. As it turns out, some rather intelligent children who defy authority or challenge the status quo tend to think more outside the box, lending them a certain creative upper hand when it comes to new ideas and starting businesses. Entrepreneurs tend not to play by the rules.

Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist at Columbia University, explains that

Read More