Fostering Resilience

Authors: Brigid Daniel & Sally Wassell

Assessing resilience

Although many factors can be associated with resilience, there appear to be three fundamental building blocks that underpin a resilient child.

  • A secure base and sound attachments with carers providing the child with a sense of belonging and of security.
  • Good self–esteem providing a sense of self–worth and of competence.
  • Self–efficacy or a sense of mastery and control, along with an understanding of personal strengths and limitations.
Daniel and Wassell (2002) have developed these three building blocks into a framework for assessment and planning consisting of the following six domains:
  1. Secure base
  2. Education
  3. Friendships
  4. Talents and interests
  5. Positive values
  6. Social Competencies

Factors within each of these domains of a child's life are known to contribute to a child's level of resilience to adversity such as abuse, neglect and loss.

Wherever possible a strength in one domain can be used to boost a weaker domain.

For example, if a young person has a strong attachment to a member of the extended family, but takes no part in activities or hobbies, that attachment figure can be encouraged and supported in helping the young person take part in an activity.

Similarly, if a young person has a good friend but misses a lot of school, consideration could be given to involving the friend in encouragement to attend, perhaps by arranging for them to travel together.

a diagram of the six different domains - Secure base, Education, Friendships, Talents and interests, Positive values, Social competencies

The diagram above highlights the six different domains and the list below identifies key assessment question for each.

You might want to reflect on a particular case and consider how you would answer each of these questions for that child. Which are the strong domains and weaker domains for that child?

The text by Daniel and Wassell (2002) offers more detailed guidance on assessment questions within each of the six domains.

Secure base

  • Individual: Does the child appear to feel secure?
  • Family: Do the child’s carers provide the child with a secure base?
  • Community: What are the wider resources that contribute to the child’s attachment network?

Education

  • Individual: To what extent does the child show curiosity and interest in learning, school or college?
  • Family: To what extent do the child’s carers facilitate the child’s learning
  • Community: What opportunities are there in the wider environment to support the child’s learning?

Friendships

  • Individual: What characteristics does the child have that help with making and keeping friends?
  • Family: To what extent do the child’s carers support the development of friendships?
  • Community: What are the child’s friendships like at the moment?

Talents and interests

  • Individual: What talents does this child have and does she have any particular interests?
  • Family: Do carers encourage the development and expression of talents and interests?
  • Community: What opportunities are there in the wider community for the nurturing of this child’s talents and interests?

Positive values

  • Individual: What level of moral reasoning does this child show, what understanding of his or her own feelings and what ability to empathise with those of others?
  • Family: What level of helping behaviour does this child show?
  • Community: What level of comforting or sharing or more general pro-social behaviour does this child show?

Social competencies

  • Individual: To what extent do this child’s personal characteristics contribute to his or her level of social competence?
  • Family: To what extent do carers encourage social competencies?
  • Community: What opportunities does this child have to develop competence in a wider social environment?