4 Resilience and wellbeing
What, then, are the implications for children and young people’s everyday lives, and how can practices and practitioners support and perhaps even enhance wellbeing?
Activity 4 Understanding resilience and wellbeing
Considering Mind's description of resilience from the Activity 3 feedback, plus your own ideas generated in response to previous activities, spend some time now reflecting on your understanding of the concept of wellbeing. Consider too the links between resilience and wellbeing. Use the following questions to help structure your note taking.
- What does it mean to be ‘well’?
- Describe some of the everyday challenges and influences that children and young people face and that might impact on their wellbeing.
- What do you think are the connections between resilience and wellbeing?
- The term ‘wellbeing’ is used to capture a broad understanding of what it means to be ‘well’ and includes physical, emotional, psychological, and social factors that affect children and young people. Understanding wellbeing cannot therefore be seen in isolation from social contexts. This might include the nature of children and young people’s relationships in families and care contexts. It might also reflect where children and young people live as well as economic and domestic circumstances. The term can also be used generally to denote quality of life experiences.
- Children and young people’s wellbeing may be influenced in a positive way by good physical health or material wealth, for example, yet undermined by poor social relationships; similarly, while relationships may be very positive, physical health can be undermined by living in conditions of poverty. The variety of factors that influence wellbeing across the lives of children, young people and families highlights the many points of contact there are with practitioners and the potential for them to play a role in supporting and enhancing wellbeing.
- Many children and young people face challenges and potential threats to their wellbeing, which they may find very difficult to cope with. These may include dealing with a family health crisis, and can also include relationship issues at home, such as divorce and changing family circumstances, as well as difficulties experienced in school, such as bullying and friendship issues.
Resilient behaviours, such as the ability to endure and adapt to stressful life experiences, are clearly important qualities and they are associated with self-confidence, emotional intelligence and social competence. Yet there are clear differences in how children react to stressful situations, and psychologists question why it is that some children appear more able to bounce back from life’s challenges and show fewer signs of anxiety than others. Even children raised in the same family can demonstrate startling differences in how they react to and cope with stressful events.
While some children may appear more naturally predisposed to displaying resilient behaviours from a young age, there are ways in which resilience can be supported and developed. Close bonds and positive school experiences as suggested by Daniels and Wassell (2002) are things which can be developed and there are a number of practices, and professional roles that can provide sources for support.