Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience
Harvard University. Center of the Developing Child
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Decades of research in the behavioral and social sciences have produced substantial evidence that children who do well despite serious hardship have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships buffer children from developmental disruption and help them build key capacities, such as the ability to adapt, that enable them to respond to adversity and thrive. The combination of supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building, and positive experiences constitute the foundation of what is commonly called resilience. This Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains how protective factors in the social environment and highly responsive biological systems interact to produce resilience, and discusses strategies that promote healthy development in the face of significant adversity.