A new eight-week course, “Here, Now and Down the Road: Growing Resilience,” is helping parents learn how to foster resilience in children, enhance their ability to overcome adversity, and lead healthy, socially competent, successful lives. The class, created and offered by Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), has expanded into Loudoun County thanks to a grant from 100WomenStrong.
Resiliency is the ability to effectively deal with challenges of all kinds – from everyday problems to trauma, tragedy or personal crisis – and bounce back from them quickly and more capable to withstand the future.
NVFS is one of a growing number of organizations using social science research on resilience in programs that teach people how to emerge from problems or challenges stronger and with more self-confidence.
According to NVFS Director of Early Childhood, Shereen Ali, the agency’s focus on resiliency includes the new courses in Loudoun, which started in July and run through October. Ali said the program has been successful in helping parents better understand how they can affect their children’s days.
“Sometimes on busy days, we don’t stop and think how parenting can have an impact on a child’s ability to be school ready, but it does, so we want to drive home that fact,” she said in a recent interview with the Loudoun Tribune.
The class includes games and other activities that teach and encourage parents to get involved in their child’s learning process. Breaks between sessions are designed to give parents time to practice what they have learned about supporting their children’s emotional strengths, as well as to give them a chance to provide feedback and experiences.
NVFS had already been providing resiliency training for children participating in Head Start in Loudoun County, and the 100WomenStrong grant allowed them to expand the training to parents so they can keep that work going in the home. Ali cited the epidemic of teen depression and suicide gripping Loudoun County as an important reason for children to learn healthy ways to deal with difficult situations from an early age.
As she shared, “We don’t want to wait until a child is a high schooler to say, ‘Hey, we could have done this earlier.’ It’s always better when you’re able to build in support when they’re much younger. Empowering the parent to be [an active] part of the child’s life and to advocate for the child and to provide that kind of support goes a long way.”
Parents enrolled in the class are referred to NVFS through the organization’s Head Start program, social service providers, hospitals, the school system and family shelters. NVFS provides babysitting money and dinner to parents to make the program as accessible as possible.
For more information on the science of resilience, and how NVFS works to support children through our early childhood development programs, please feel free to visit our blog: http://www.nvfs.org/developing-strong-mental-health-children/