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Fostering Resiliency in the Neediest Children: An Evidence-Based Approach

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Transcript of Fostering Resiliency in the Neediest Children: An Evidence-Based Approach

Fostering Resiliency in the Neediest Children: An Evidence-Based Approach
Federal Poverty Statistics
20% of children 18 years of age and younger are living in poverty in the United States

Federal poverty level was $22,350 for a family of four in 2011

“Poor” = children living below the federal poverty level
Focusing on Effective Prevention
Proactive vs. Reactive
Shift in philosophy

Nicole Milano, M.S., Psychology Trainee
Silviana Guerra, B.S., Psychology Trainee
Center for Psychological Studies
Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Poverty in Families
Florida Statistics
National Kids Count, 2013
Age group differences
0-5 years old = 28%
6-17 years old = 24%

Child’s Race/Ethnicity
39% African American
28% Hispanic
14% Caucasian
Parental Marital Status
64% of children in poor families live with single parent
Immigration Status
30% of children of immigrant parents live in poor families

Florida Demographics
Associated Risk Factors
Relational/Home
Increased stress, domestic violence, parental substance abuse, and parental mental health challenges
Effective parenting
Institutional/Community
Violence, drugs, parental job instability, and vandalism
Chronic stressors
Safety concerns, hunger, and homelessness

Correlational Relationship
Poverty and risk is complex


Negative outcomes for children faced with poverty



Mental Health Outcomes
Individual
Internalizing Disorders
Externalizing Disorders
Gender differences depend on the child’s age and level of poverty-related stress, and can be interchangeable
Systemic
No significant differences between ethnic backgrounds


Protective Factors
Internal factors:
IQ, social skills, emotional regulation
External factors:
Competent parents, friendships, support networks, and effective schools
Faith
Considerations:
Must be viewed in the context of their individual cultures and developmental stages

Positive Education
“An approach to education that fosters traditional academic skills as well as skills for happiness and wellbeing.”
(Seligman, Ernst, Gillham, Reivich, & Linkins, 2009)

Positive Psychology Interventions (PPIs)

PERMA:
Positive Emotions
Engagement
Relationships
Meaning
Accomplishments
Three Properties
Increase resiliency and academic skills
Add factors
Implemented by an expert
Teacher-student relationship
Measurable outcomes
"Students enrolled in a social and emotional learning programs ranked 11% points
higher on achievement tests than students who did not participate in such programs."
(Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011)


Four Factors
1. Traditional academic disciplines extended

2. Use a school-wide approach

3. Strategic framework

4. The supporting role of larger educational systems


School-Based Positive Psychology Interventions
Hope
Gratitude
Resilience

Cultivating Hope

“The process of thinking about one’s goals, along with the motivation to move toward those goals (agency) and the ways to achieve those goals (pathways)”
(Synder, 1995)
Research findings:
Relationship to academic achievement:
Higher:
Achievement scores
Average grade point averages
Graduation rates
Lower attrition
Child’s self-evaluation:
Perceived competence
Self-esteem
Life satisfaction
Mental health

Hope = Potential antidote for at-risk students

Cultivating Hope
Cont.
The Children’s Hope Scale
Implementation:
1. Goal setting
2. Coaching
3. Best Possible Selves Approach
"Imagine the future where you are the best you can possibly be. Imagine yourself in a way that you’re both happy and interested…
...Write about that."
...Draw a picture of that."

"An emotion that arises from experiencing a positive outcome, such as receiving a gift, particularly when this outcome arises from the intentional behavior of another person"
Benefits of Gratitude:
Increased:
Positive affect
Life satisfaction
Optimism
Energy
Decreased:
Physical symptoms
Negative affect





Fostering Gratitude
Fostering Gratitude
Cont.
Gratitude Interventions:
Writing gratitude letters and delivering them to the recipient
Grades 3rd-12th
The art of being grateful:
"Think about your day. What is something that you are thankful for that happened today? Please draw a picture of that."




Fostering Resiliency
Operationally define
Self-regulation skills
Proactive orientation
Prosociality
Competency versus resiliency
The Penn Resiliency Program
Meta-analysis
17 studies, 2,000 students, control group
Outcome
Reduced symptoms of depression, hopelessness, and anxiety
Follow-up research at 24 months and at 31 months
Long lasting results
Increase optimism

Let's try a PPI!
Best Possible Selves Intervention
Instructions for adults:
"Think about yourself in the future. Imagine that everything has gone as well as it possibly could. Think of this as the realization of all your life dreams. Now, write about what you imagined."





Instructions for students:
Older students:
"Imagine the future where you are the best you can possibly be. Imagine yourself in a way that you are both happy and interested... Write about that."
Younger students:
"Imagine the future where you are the best you can possibly be. Imagine yourself in a way that you are both happy and interested... Draw a picture of that."

How can I incorporate these techniques in my school ?
Increasing Flow Experiences

“ a good life is one that is characterized by complete absorption in what one does”
(Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002)

References:
(Whalen, 1999)
(Csikszentmihaly, Rathnude, & Whalen, 1993)

Increasing Positive Affectivity


"The experience of positive emotions."

Techniques:
Engagement in social, academic and physical domains
An Alternative Consultation
The “traditional” consultation
Strengths as a buffer
A comprehensive understanding of positive psychology
Focus is on students’ potentials and already existing strengths and develop activities to enhance these

Focus on Prevention!
Shift from disease model to a prevention model
From remediation to prevention
Benefits:
The long-term reduction in referrals for academic and behavioral difficulties






Things to consider...
The school-home connection
Homework
Increase in family time
School-wide implementation
"Strength and Accomplishment night"
Don’t forget about the school staff!




All children are capable of adapting to their environment and developing the resiliency to respond effectively to challenges

A well-researched, evidence-based curriculum designed to boost student resilience
Implementation nationally and internationally
Students 8 to 15 years of age
Increase the ability to cope with day-to-day stressors commonly observed among students

Positive Psychology can benefit several populations
Children at-risk, Where can we help?
Importance of Positive Psychology techniques for this special population
The integration from schools to community

Take-Home Message
Boys and Girls Club of Broward County:
Annual Report
2012-2013 Annual report
58% of member families reported that they earn less than $20,000 annually
64% of member families reported that they are single parent families
84% of members attended Title I Schools
74% African American, 13 Hispanic, 5 White
Future Directions:Community Implementation
Goals: Healthy Lifestyles, Good Character and Citizenship and Academic Success
Missing goal?

Resources for Educators
Books:
Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being
By: Martin E. P. Seligman
The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want
By: Sonja Lyubomirsky
Gratitude:
I’m Thankful Each Day (also in Spanish)
By: P. K. Hallinan
Gratitude Soup
By: Olivia Rosewood
Penn Resiliency Program Skills:
The resilience factor
By: Reivich, K., & Shatté, A.
The optimistic child
By: Seligman, M.E.P., Reivich, K., Jaycox, L., & Gillham, J.

Thank you for your time and attention!
Our Contact Information:
Nicole Milano, M.S.
nm519@nova.edu
Silviana Guerra, B.S.
sg1190@nova.edu
Alvord, M.K. & Grados, J.J. (2005). Enhancing resilience in children: a proactive approach.
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References
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The scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive
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