Promoting resilience through early childhood intervention: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities

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Introduction In the past decade, research on resilience has grown dramatically beyond the field of clinical psychology from which it arose. Applications in education, social work, human development, health, and business have expanded the conceptualization of resilience from a psychosocial perspective to a multidimensional one (Wang & Gordon, 1994; Werner & Smith, 1992; Zimmerman & Arunkumar, 1994). Although much of the knowledge base has highlighted measurement and methodology, a major source of the appeal of the resilience concept is to enhance the well-being of individuals through social programs and policies. One major priority is the identification of personal and environmental factors that promote successful adjustment among the most vulnerable young people. In this chapter, we review evidence about the effects of early childhood interventions in promoting resilience for children who have experienced high levels of social-environmental risk due to economic disadvantage. We address several contemporary issues including the measurement of resilience, interventions as protective factors, and the pathways through which the effects of interventions lead to positive developmental outcomes. Despite continuing concerns about construct and measurement validity (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000; Tolan, 1996), resilience as a subject of investigation has been a major influence on developmental research. Four characteristics explain its influence. First, resilience is a positive outcome of development and thus provides an alternative perspective to dysfunctional behavior that has long been associated with the field of psychology. Undue focus on individual pathology and disease can have stigmatizing effects, and this is largely avoided with resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResilience and vulnerability
Subtitle of host publicationAdaptation in the context of childhood adversities
EditorsS S Luthar
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780511615788
ISBN (Print)0521001617, 9780521807012
StatePublished - 2003


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