“Resilience refers to the qualities that cushion a vulnerable child from the worst effects of adversity and that can help a ‘child to cope, survive and even thrive in the face of great hurt and disadvantage’”. – Written by SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence – UK)
While it may not always be possible to protect a foster child from further adversity, finding ways to boost his/her resilience enhances their likelihood of being able to cope during future unfavourable circumstances (times of difficulty).
Resilience-enhancing factors include:
- Building a sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy (be given age appropriate responsibilities and participating in valued activities)
- Having access to at least one committed adult (such as a caring relationship with a foster carer)
- Being happy and involved at school
Foster care should be able to offer children these opportunities.
Self-esteem is one of the fundamental building blocks of resilience. Principally, self-esteem flows from positive attachment experiences.
Research finding: Positive relationships, at any age in the life span, can help improve a poor self-concept. People who take an in-terest, who listen, who care and love us, make us feel better. They improve our image and bolster our self-esteem. Children who are not loved at home may nevertheless develop feelings of self- worth if a foster parent responds with kindness and consistency.
Self-esteem is closely linked with developing a sense of self-efficacy or self-direction. Self-efficacy grows from experience. It is about qualities of optimism, persistence and believing that one’s own efforts can make a difference. A person’s sense of self-efficacy is improved by opportunities to take responsibility or contribute to decisions which affect the minutiae or broader trend of one’s life. Therefore giving foster children age appropriate responsibilities in and around the house, and providing positive (yet truthful acknowledgement and feedback) in completing these responsibilities, plays a key role in enhancing their self-esteem.
Self-esteem are also enhanced by participation in valued activities. It is about feeling successful, not simply academically, but also in other areas such as in relationships or in spare time activities. This means that encouraging foster children to take part in school activities which they enjoy can be an important source of self-esteem for them.