Do you think resilience is instinct or taught?

Katherine - posted on 05/14/2012 ( 19 moms have responded )

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As in with children. I think it's a learned behavior......I don't really think it's something you actually teach a child. Some kids cry when they bump their head and others don't. Say no one taught them that. They learned that behavior. Nature v nurture.





What do you think?

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Jodi - posted on 05/15/2012

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I believe it is both. There is evidence that everyone is born with a different personality, but how that personality develops depends on the environment. Some children are born more independent and resilient than others, and this is evidenced through observational studies on newborn infants. But it is suggested that an infant's personality when born can ALSO affect how a parent and significant others respond to that baby, and that response can also depend on the personality of that person. So in many ways, it is an intricate and complicated interaction.

When I brushed up on this topic a couple of months ago to teach a year 12 class (we did 4 hours of classes on nature vs. nurture), it was frequently called a "dance of life", meaning that it was an ongoing interaction between nature and nurture dancing together that contributed to the individual you are. It is affected by the personality of the parent, the innate personality of the child, the environment in which the child is raised and needs to survive in, the birth order of the child (eg. oldest, youngest), gender, so many different factors. I don't think you can pinpoint any one individual thing that has contributed to the resilience of a particular person, but I do believe that nature contributes to this being a starting point for some infants, and not for others.

Aleks - posted on 05/16/2012

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I think some have an inborn instinct for *greater* resilience then others. However, nurture has a great part to play also.

Because one can help to foster greater resilience in a child that was not necessarily born with a lot of it. And certainly one that has can have it knocked out of them, or at least knock down by the type of nurture they are receiving.



ETA:

As for getting kids not to fall appart after a bump or fall, simply don't make a big deal out of it. Don't freak out and gush all over the child, don't start the "oh oh, no, are you ok sweatheart?" while running as if to save their life. Well not if it is just a small/typical toddler bump or fall. If they are uncertain if they want to cry or not, or if they actually are hurting in any way, I wouldn't run over... just say "you're ok, yes?"

If they get up crying console them and tell them that they will feel better soon. I tell my kids when they fall or hurt themselves (they are 6 and 3) "Is there blood? If not then you are probably going to be ok." I always give the affected/hurt area a kiss if they want or need it.

If there is blood... (and its a minor thing), wash it up no fuss, put a band-aid on it... If they are bothered though... (minor bump/fall or not) then it is wise to console them as much as they need it. Though I still tell them that even though it hurts now, it will stop soon or if they bruise or scrape something I tell them the truth, that it may be sore for a few days but not making a big deal... letting them know that it will heal in those few days : )

Elfrieda - posted on 05/15/2012

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I think it's largely instinct, with teaching and environment playing a role. I am a bit of a wuss, I'll admit it! I was the one who screamed every time I got a splinter or bumped my head as a kid. But "toughness" was a very valued thing when I was growing up, so after the initial wail I'd choke back the tears and tough it out. I still react that way, "OWWW... it's nothing, don't touch me."

My son is similar to me, I think. When he bumps his head, he wants a kiss, maybe two, and he'll tearfully reenact the whole scenario so that he understands exactly what happened. His cousin, on the other hand, will just sort of ricochet off the table corner and keep playing. My sister-in-law and I have different parenting styles, but surely it doesn't make THAT much difference!

I want to teach my son not to be a wimp, without using the shaming techniques used on me. I don't know quite how to do it, though...

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 05/15/2012

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I believe resilience is learnt from one's environment, it is a part of one's personality (which stems prominently from environment, as one is growing). So, if you have a mother that grabs for the child each and every time they fall or scrape themselves, they are going to be more susceptible to seek outward comfort, rather than inward.



If they have a mother that not only demonstrates through her own struggles, the importance to fight back and keep going until they have succeeded, the child is going to be more apt, to do so as well. making them more resilient.



I believe it is a tool, that over time is learnt, from various sources. It all depends on how those sources were presented and how they manifested, in ones eyes. I think that if you teach or guide resilience from a young age, the child will become a fighter - not physically but intellectually/emotionally - they will strive for what they truly want and they will not stop until they have it. They will bounce back from hardships and keep on trucken...;) However, in order for them to learn, they must fail. If it means quitting something and then realizing later, they aren't going to get what they set out for, than that is still a part of them learning how to push forward.



It is often a very common nature, to give up when the going gets tough but that is why we have parents. They are there to show us, that nothing comes easy in life and you must move forward.



In my experience, most kids are very resilient. They may have a bit of a hard time to start but they get over it quite easily. I know I moved anywhere from 13-16 times as a kid. Even though I hated it, I got use to it. I bounced back but I had no choice. I had no one to baby me.



As for those kids that are abused. Well, again, it all depends on the extent and whether they had any other environmental sources to help them reshape themselves. I know for me, I could have become an abuser too (as my Dad and Mom, were), very easily. I was a very angry person. It is only in the passed 12-14 years, that I have worked very hard on this part of me. If I hadn't worked on it and realized it was not who I wanted to be (for my daughter or for myself). I can say with certain, I would be an abuser. To me, that has nothing to do with resilience. It has to do with an inner awareness and making a choice to help yourself. As a child, I was broken. I was not resilient to the abuse I endured. I simply acted out and learnt absolutely everything the hard way.

Janice - posted on 05/15/2012

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Taught and learned are the same thing. But I think I still understand what you asking ;)



I think resilience is mostly nature. Some people inborn personality just makes them more likely to overcome obstacles. Why do some children who grow up being abused still turn out normal and loving while others turn cynical and into abusers themselves? Yes, some baby's are naturally sensitive while others are not.



However, I also think you can teach a child to be resilient too. If you teach your child strategies to overcome obstacles and you are encouraging and supportive then your child may still turn out to be resilient to problems.

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Jenny - posted on 05/17/2012

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I havent read all the replies, but this stuck out to me "So, if you have a mother that grabs for the child each and every time they fall or scrape themselves, they are going to be more susceptible to seek outward comfort, rather than inward."

In my experience this is not true! My 3.5 year old from when he first fell till now will just sit there until someone comes to help. My 2yo daughter from day dot would automatically just get up and get going like nothing ever happened. That is definatley instinct.

However I am trying to teach my son not to make a big fuss if something is not worth making a fuss over, i do encourage him to just get back up when he falls if the fall looked like nothing. I feel like its slowly making an impact on him.

Therefore, I think you are born with resilience or not, but you can learn to become resilient. Kind of reminds me of the brain washing that goes on with the kids in africa amongst the kids that get stolen by rebels and become desensitised to hurting others and feeling pain themselves. That is definatley learnt behaviour, but would still come more readily in some kids than others.

Jenny - posted on 05/17/2012

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I havent read all the replies, but this stuck out to me "So, if you have a mother that grabs for the child each and every time they fall or scrape themselves, they are going to be more susceptible to seek outward comfort, rather than inward."



My 3.5 year old from when he first fell till now will just sit there until someone comes to help. My 2yo daughter from day dot would automatically just get up and get going like nothing ever happened. That is definatley instinct.



However I am trying to teach my son not to make a big fuss if something is not worth making a fuss over, i do encourage him to just get back up when he falls if the fall looked like nothing. I feel like its slowly making an impact on him.



Therefore, I think you are born with resilience or not, but you can learn to become resilient. Kind of reminds me of the brain washing that goes on with the kids in africa amongst the kids that get stolen by rebels and become desensitised to hurting others and feeling pain themselves. That is definatley learnt behaviour, but would still come more readily in some kids than others.

Teresa - posted on 05/16/2012

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MOst of my post got deleted. The important part about how resilient preemie babies are. There was about 5 or six sentances that got deleted. I give up. Babies are born resilient.

Teresa - posted on 05/16/2012

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WHen my 8 year old was a 3 month preemie in the NICU, we found out the degrees of resiliency in preemie babies. African AMerican girls were most resiliant, then caucasion girls, then african american boys, and then caucasion boys. This was an informal observance from the nurses Both resilient babies. Now, ask me again wher resilisncy comes from. I know any parent of a preemie baby tell you that we are BORN with it!

[deleted account]

Both! I think there is an epidemic of "preciousness" in parenting these days which is discouraging children to be resilient.

You know that kind of thing - "my child can NEVER feel failure" - they must be rewarded for everything they do, no matter how little effort was put in, and be protected from any sense of inadequacy.

It's setting them up for an adulthood of unrealistic expectations of the world.

[deleted account]

I think it's a combination of both. I think that, whhile some kids are born naturally more resilient than others, if you coddle children and overact to problems all the time they will learn that, as opposed to if you just get back up and keep trying when you make a mistake.

Janice - posted on 05/16/2012

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His cousin, on the other hand, will just sort of ricochet off the table corner and keep playing

Ricochet Lol! I like that term; that is my daughter too. She demands I kiss booboos but there are rarely tears. She regularly has bruises that we have no clue how they happened because she never cries hard enough for us to know. Sometimes she'll fall and exclaim "I okay!" before we can ask. She was just born like that. Of course when she does actually cry I start to panic because I now assume she has broken something!

Katherine - posted on 05/15/2012

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I don't react when my kids fall or hurt themselves, unless they really hurt themselves badly. I think maybe that's taught them to be more resilient. But I also think it's a personality trait. Some kids just react differently.

Sylvia - posted on 05/15/2012

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I think it's been pretty well demonstrated that for most things, it's not either nature or nurture, it's both/and. I have no doubt that some people are naturally more resilient; but I think it's a learned behaviour, too. Life is more complicated than simply offer this incentive > get that result -- but people do respond to incentives. My kiddo is a bit of a sensitive plant :P, so helping her learn to bounce back from a bad experience is an ongoing project at my house...

[deleted account]

I think it can be both. You're born with a certain amount, and then according to how you are raised you either grow in that aspect or decline. I come to this conclusion while, again, comparing my childhood to my brother's. We were raised by two completely different people. Both of us, when we were little, were pretty resilient MFers, didn't take shit from anybody. However, when my brother and mother moved in with me and our grandparents, my mother started babying my brother to compensate for the fact that my great grandmother and I were very close. Now, I'm still pretty kick-ass (lol), but my brother is a completely different story. He's such a momma's boy and can't handle anything. He won't stand up for himself at all. It's sad.

[deleted account]

That's a really interesting question! I don't know the answer.



I do actively try to teach J resilience, so I hope it can be taught and learned--I hope he's not screwed because he was born without it or anything. To me, resilience is more than just not crying when a kid gets hurt, it's about getting up and trying again, over and over and over again until one succeeds in their chosen endeavor.





ETA: That said, I'm not sure I was ever taught resilience, but I think I'm a pretty resilient person. I don't understand the concept of quitting or giving up on things that are important to me. J is the same way--a kid with a Blue Belt quit Taekwondo last week because it was "too difficult" and I had a really hard time explaining the reasoning to J because I, myself, didn't understand. The kid started taekwondo to become a Black Belt, he said so in his mission statement, so I can't wrap my head around why he stopped taking lessons before he had earned the Black Belt. I understand that it is difficult, but isn't everything difficult? And wouldn't something being difficult just make you feel better when you succeed? Why work all the way up to Blue and stop?

Katherine - posted on 05/14/2012

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Sorry had to change my question as the first one didn't make sense. I meant to say instinct v taught, not learned.

Katherine - posted on 05/14/2012

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Intinct, yes, that's what I wanted to say. Much more instinctual than taught.

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