By 3-4 Years, a Resilient Child Should be Able to Fend for Itself
Aboriginal people practiced infanticide and left
children as young as 3 years old to fend themselves. As a result,
children evolved to have the capacity to be surprisingly independent at
young ages, although they are quite vulnerable during the first year.
Rapidly, however, between the ages of 1 and 3, a
child blossoms in physical coordination, mental complexity,
language and major basic skills of life. It is no coincidence that
it is around this age that most children begin formal education in Western
societies. In poorer societies, this is when many children begin to work and assume adult-like responsibilities.
What Does the Research Say?
Two-thirds of children in high risk families emerge as resilient
Some longitudinal studies, several of which follow individuals over the
course of a lifespan, have consistently documented that between half and
two-thirds of children growing up in
families with mentally ill, alcoholic, abusive, or criminally involved
parents or in poverty-stricken or war-torn communities do overcome the odds
and turn a life trajectory of risk into one that manifests "resilience,"
the term used to describe a set of qualities that foster a process of
successful adaptation and transformation despite risk and adversity.
Resilient toddlers are intelligent, autonomous, sociable, and
When they are toddlers, resilient children display an array of
characteristics. Intelligence, autonomy, and sociability are present during
the toddler years (Murphy and Moriarty, 1976; Werner and Smith, 1982). Their
autonomy is tempered by adequate cooperation and compliance (Murphy and
Moriarty, 1976). They are friendly, socially responsive, sensitive, and
cooperative, with a positive sense of self (Garmezy, 1981; IMHI, 1991). They
are also androgynous in that resilient toddler males have deeper affective
expression, sociability, and demonstrativeness than non-resilient toddler
males. Resilient toddler females are better coordinated, not as timid, and
interested in environmental exploration; this makes them androgynous as well
(Murphy and Moriarty, 1976; Werner and Smith, 1982).
(Ohio State University Extension, 1999)
10 Ways to Make Your Children More Resilience
- Be empathetic.
- Listen actively & Communicate effectively.
- Change negative scripts.
- Love children to help them feel special and appreciated.
- Accept children for who they are & help them set realistic
expectations and goals.
- Help children to experience success by identifying and reinforcing
their "islands of competence.”
- Help children recognize that mistakes are experiences from which to
- Develop responsibility, compassion and a social conscience by
providing children with opportunities to contribute to society.
- Teach children how to solve problems and make decisions.
- Discipline in a way that promotes self-discipline and self-worth.
(Adapted from Brooks & Goldstein, 2003)
Examples of Resilient Children
In order to illustrate the potential resilience of
children at very young ages, anecdotal true stories are being
collated. These could be used for study and
Do you have a story which illustrates the remarkable
resilience of children?
Girl, 5, saves
baby from dingo in hotel
Fraser Island, Australia, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A 5-year-old Australian girl
who planted herself between her infant sister and a dingo that entered the
family hotel room is being credited as a hero.
Belinda Corke told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., her daughter
Georgia was alone in the room on Fraser Island with her 3-month-old sister
Wednesday when the dingo came in through the slightly open patio doors.
The 5-year-old had to scream several times to alert her parents, and kept
moving to keep herself between the wild dog and her sister on the bed, just
two feet away.
"I heard my 5-year-old daughter starting to scream when I was in the
bathroom," Corke said. "And then my husband sort of heard her shouting,
Corke said it took a while for her husband to shoo the dog out, but it
eventually fled through the patio door.
Three years ago, a 9-year-old boy was mauled to death on the island by a
pack of dingoes, a wolf-like wild dog that migrated from Southeast Asia
millions of years ago.