Transcript: How to Teach Resilience | Nov 14, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue-gray suit, a pale blue shirt, and a patterned blue tie.

A caption reads "Twitter @stevepaikin, @theagenda."

The caption changes to "How to teach resilience."

Steve says ALL GOOD PARENTS WANT
THEIR CHILDREN TO DO WELL. THEY
GIVE THEM HELP WHEN THEY NEED IT
AND TRY TO SEE THEM THROUGH THE
TOUGH TIMES.
SOME ARE EVEN OVERPROTECTIVE,
SHELTERING THEIR KIDS FROM
FAILURE OR DISAPPOINTMENT.
BUT FOR ALL THE WELL-MEANING
SUPPORT PARENTS OFFER THEIR
KIDS, THEY MAY ALSO BE KEEPING
THEM FROM LEARNING A CRITICAL
SKILL: HOW TO BOUNCE BACK ALL ON
THEIR OWN.
OR, AS OUR NEXT GUEST MIGHT CALL
IT, RESILIENCE.
JOINING US NOW TO EXPLAIN:
MICHAEL UNGAR, PROFESSOR OF
SOCIAL WORK AND DIRECTOR OF THE
RESILIENCE RESEARCH CENTRE AT
DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY.

Michael is in his mid-fifties, with short gray hair and a beard. He wears glasses and a white shirt.

Steve says HE'S THE AUTHOR OF "I STILL LOVE
YOU: NINE THINGS TROUBLED KIDS
NEED FROM THEIR PARENTS."
AND WE'RE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME
YOU TO OUR STUDIO HERE AT TVO.

Michael says GREAT TO BE
HERE.

Steve says WHY SO MUCH CONCERN
THESE DAYS IN PARTICULAR ABOUT
KIDS' RESILIENCE.

A picture of the book appears on screen.

The caption changes to "How to teach resilience. Conscious parenting."

The caption changes to "Michael Ungar. Dalhouse University."

Michael says I THINK WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS
PERHAPS AN OVERPROTECTIVE
PARENTING TREND THAT WE'RE
BEGINNING TO SEE A SPIKE IN
ANXIETY DISORDERS AMONGST OUR
CHILDREN.
THERE'S A LOT OF CONSCIOUSNESS
NOW ABOUT CHILDREN WHO ARE
REFUGEES, CHILDREN WHO ARE
DISPLACED.
I GUESS WE'VE MAYBE REACHED THAT
CRITICAL POINT WHERE WE REALIZE,
WE CAN ACTUALLY DO BETTER.
THAT THERE'S ACTUALLY SOMETHING
WE CAN DO TO HELP KIDS GET
THROUGH THESE KINDS OF CRISES
AND MAYBE THIS OVERCOMPENSATION,
THIS OVERPROTECTIVE TREND IS
ACTUALLY DENYING KIDS THE VERY
THINGS THEY NEED TO DO WELL.
FOR ME IT'S GOING BOTH
DIRECTIONS.
IT'S WHEN WE KNOW THERE'S A
BUNCH OF VULNERABLE KIDS WE CAN
ACTUALLY HELP AND AVOID THE
TRAUMA, AND THERE'S ANOTHER
GROUP WE'RE REALLY WORRIED ABOUT
THAT FRANKLY WE'RE
OVERPROTECTING AND MAKING MORE
VULNERABLE BY TRYING TO HELP
THEM.

Steve says IT'S IRONIC IN OUR
EFFORTS TO DO BETTER BY OUR
KIDS, WE MAY BE HARMING THEM.
THAT'S THE LAST THING ANY PARENT
WANTS TO HEAR, BUT THERE YOU GO.

Michael says THAT'S EXACTLY IT.
I THINK WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS
SHIFT THE CONVERSATION FROM
BEING SO PROTECTIVE THAT
THINKING ABOUT THE RISK TAKER'S
ADVANTAGE.
THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT KIDS'
PSYCHOSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
ALL THE BUILDING BLOCKS THEY
NEED TO COPE WITH LIFE'S
CHALLENGES.
PART OF THAT IS EXPOSING THEM TO
MANAGEABLE AMOUNTS OF RISK AND
RESPONSIBILITY WHEN THEY'RE
YOUNGER.
THAT'S OF COURSE FOR KIDS WHO DO
HAVE THE SUPPORTS TO GET
THROUGH.
IF A CHILD IS LIVING IN
INCREDIBLE STRESS OR JUST HAD A
TERRIBLE LOSS IN THEIR LIFE, YOU
DON'T WANT TO OVERBURDEN THEM.
YOU DO WANT TO PROTECT THEM.
UNFORTUNATELY THIS IS A GAME OF
FINDING A BALANCE AS A PARENT OR
AS AN EDUCATOR, YOU KNOW.
HOW MUCH RISK IS THIS CHILD
UNDER?
WHAT DO THEY ACTUALLY NEED TO BE
RESILIENT IN THAT PARTICULAR
SETTING?

Steve says JUST AS NATURE AND
NURTURE ARE VERY SIMILAR WORDS
BUT MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS, I'M
GOING TO GIVE YOU TWO WORDS AND
I WANT YOU TO TELL ME THE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO:
RESILIENCY AND RESILIENCE?

The caption changes to "Michael Ungar. Resilience Research Centre."

Michael says IF I TOOK YOU BACK 40 OR 50
YEARS AGO WHEN THESE IDEAS WERE
REALLY LAUNCHING, THEY TALKED
ABOUT RESILIENCY.
IT WAS AN INNER TRAIT.
IT'S A NOTION I BOUNCE BACK
BECAUSE OF SOMETHING INSIDE OF
ME.
MORE RECENTLY THE FIELD HAS
SAID, YOU KNOW, THE SCIENCE
DOESN'T BEAR THAT OUT.
WHAT WE SEE IS RESILIENCE.
WE HELP OUR KIDS TO FIND THE
RESOURCES, WE MAKE IT POSSIBLE
FOR THEM TO GROW AND THRIVE.
I MEAN, THE EXAMPLE I OFTEN GIVE
IS, WE KIND OF DO WHAT FAIRY
GODMOTHERS OR FAIRY GODFATHERS
DO OR THE CINDERELLA STORY.
SHE WASN'T RESILIENT ON HER OWN.
SHE HAD SOMEONE HELPING HER.
SO HER "RESILIENCE," HER ABILITY
TO SORT OF SHINE THROUGH WAS
BECAUSE THERE WAS AN ENVIRONMENT
AROUND HER, PEOPLE, FAIRY
GODMOTHER, WHO MADE HER SUCCESS
POSSIBLE.

Steve says PRESUMABLY THERE ARE
SOME CHILDREN WHO ARE NATURALLY
MORE RESILIENT THAN OTHERS.

Michael says THAT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE.
THERE'S A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF
CHILDREN WHO HAVE THE RIGHT
PERSONALITY AND CONTEXT... THE
INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS,
AND I DO RESEARCH, OUR CENTRE
DOES RESEARCH LITERALLY ON A
GLOBAL SCALE.
I WAS JUST IN PORTUGAL, SOUTH
AFRICA, WE HAVE PROJECTS, HIGH
ARCTIC OF CANADA, ALL OVER THE
GLOBE WE WORK.
AND IT'S INTERESTING.
WHAT TRAITS REALLY MATTER TO A
CHILD WILL ALWAYS BE DETERMINED
BY THE CULTURE AND THE CONTEXT
IN WHICH THEY LIVE.
IN YOU'RE LIVING IN DOWNTOWN
TORONTO, THE CAPACITY TO
NAVIGATE THE SUBWAY SYSTEM, BE
OUTDOORS AND BE ON A BUS AND
DEAL WITH THE NOISE AND
CONGESTION OF A CITY IS
IMPORTANT.
BUT IF YOU'RE IN MAYBE THE HIGH
ARCTIC OF CANADA, YOU'RE LOOKING
AT A WHOLE DIFFERENT CULTURAL
SET OF PRACTICES, YOU'RE LOOKING
AT DIFFERENT SKILL-SETS THAT ARE
GOING TO ACTUALLY BE A CERTAIN
KIND OF PERSONALITY TYPE IS
LIKELY GOING TO BE MUCH MORE
FITTING IN THAT PARTICULAR
CONTEXT.

Steve says AS A PARENT, CAN YOU
TEACH RESILIENCY?

Michael says OH, ABSOLUTELY.
WELL, IN A SENSE WHAT YOU CAN DO
IS GIVE YOUR CHILD
OPPORTUNITIES...

Steve says WELL, MAYBE I'M
MAKING TOO MUCH OF THIS.
IT SEEMS TO ME THERE'S A
DISTINCTION BETWEEN CREATING THE
OPPORTUNITY FOR RESILIENCY AND
ACTUALLY SORT OF TEACHING THEM
HOW TO DO IT.

Michael says YOU CAN... IF YOUR CHILD IS
REASONABLY SAFE, LOTS OF
RESOURCES... YOU WOULD NOT SAY
YOUR CHILD IS TERRIBLY AT RISK,
AND YOU CAN TEACH THEM HOW TO
SELF-REGULATE, MINDFULNESS
PRACTICES, HAVING A POSITIVE
MINDSET OR A POSITIVE SET OF
IDEAS IN YOUR HEAD, I CAN GET
THROUGH IT, I CAN GET THROUGH
THE CRISIS.
ALL THE THINGS WE CAN TEACH KIDS
TO GET OUT OF THE NEGATIVE
THINKING.
ABSOLUTELY.
WHAT OUR RESEARCH SHOWS AND WHAT
MY CLINICAL PRACTICE SHOWS, AS A
CHILD IS EXPOSED TO MORE DANGER,
MORE RISK, THAT MINDSET ALSO HAS
TO BE MET BY THINGS LIKE, YOU
KNOW: DO I PROVIDE MY CHILD WITH
THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF STRUCTURE
AND SOME CONSEQUENCES?
HAVE THEY A BUNCH OF
RELATIONSHIPS AROUND THEM?
SO IF A GRANDPARENT HAS JUST
PASSED AWAY, ARE OTHER FAMILY
MEMBERS GOING TO FILL THAT VOID?
IF THEY'RE A RECENT IMMIGRANT
AND LOST CONNECTIONS TO THEIR
CULTURE BACK HOME, IS THERE SOME
SORT OF MAYBE A RELIGIOUS
INSTITUTION OR A SOCIAL NETWORK
OR SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO
CONNECT THEM BACK TO THEIR
CULTURE?
POSITIVE MINDSET IS GOING TO
HELP THEM TO SAY... TO TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF THOSE
OPPORTUNITIES, BUT IT'S NOT
ENOUGH ON ITS OWN UNLESS WE ALSO
MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE PROVIDING
ALL THESE OTHER THINGS THAT MAKE
IT POSSIBLE FOR THOSE KIDS TO
SHINE.

Steve says I GUESS IT STARTS
WITH US AS THE PARENTS.
I MEAN, LET'S DO AN EVEN SIMPLER
EXAMPLE.
MONKEY BARS.
PARENTS HAVE GOT TO LET THEIR
KIDS PLAY ON THE MONKEY BARS.

Michael says WHEN I STARTED DOING SOME OF
THIS RESEARCH, I REMEMBER
VIVIDLY, IT WAS A MOM, COULD
HAVE BEEN A DAD, VERY ANXIOUS
ABOUT WATCHING HER 4-YEAR-OLD
CLIMB TOO HIGH ON THE MONKEY
BARS SO SHE COULDN'T REACH HER.
THE CHILD PICKED UP ON THAT
PANIC, AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, MOM
HAD TO CAJOLE THE CHILD DOWN.
IF WE GIVE THE MESSAGE THAT
MONKEY BARS ARE DANGEROUS, WE'RE
NOT DOING OUR JOB, WHICH IS
HELPING THE CHILDREN SOLVE THE
PROBLEM OF THE MONKEY BARS.
THE MESSAGE SHOULDN'T BE, YOU'RE
TOO HIGH, YOU'RE GOING TO FALL.
THE MESSAGE SHOULD BE, WHERE ARE
YOUR HANDS?
CAN YOU BACK DOWN?
WHERE DO YOU WANT ME AS YOUR
SUPPORT SYSTEM?
DO YOU WANT ME UNDER YOU, WHICH
IS WHERE I WANT TO BE.

Steve says BUT FUN.

Michael says RISKY BUT FUN.
WE'RE SEEING THIS NOTION OF
SMART RISK.
WE'RE SEEING ALSO GENUINE
RESPONSIBILITIES AS WELL.
KIDS SHOULD HAVE SOMETHING...
YOU KNOW, AS WE MOVE INTO THE
HOLIDAY SEASON AND STUFF, PEOPLE
ARE... ARE YOU GOING TO LET YOUR
KIDS ACTUALLY MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION TO THE FAMILY OR IS
IT JUST GOING TO BE GIVE, GIVE,
GIVE, GIVE KIND OF THING?
THAT'S THE KIND OF DYNAMIC WE
WANT TO SEE.

Steve says WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
PARENTS SO FAR.
I WONDER WHETHER THE PUBLIC
EDUCATION SYSTEM HAS A ROLE IN
TEACHING RESILIENCY AS WELL?

The caption changes to "How to teach resilience. The role of public education."

The caption changes to "Michael Ungar. @MichaelUngarPhD."

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope and Instagram."

Michael says WELL, ABSOLUTELY.
IN TERMS OF SETTING UP THE
CLASSROOMS AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM
SO THE KIDS HAVE THESE
OPPORTUNITIES TO GET WHAT THEY
NEED.
SCHOOLS CAN BE, JUST LIKE
PARENTS, SCHOOLS CAN GIVE KIDS A
REALLY POWERFUL IDENTITY, A
SENSE OF CONTROL, SOME
DECISION-MAKING.
THEY CAN PUSH KIDS INTO NEW
RELATIONSHIPS.
VERY, VERY SIMPLE EXAMPLE OF A
CHILD WHO WAS REALLY FEELING
AWKWARD, SHY, SOCIALLY
WITHDRAWN, A LITTLE BIT BULLIED.
AND WHAT HE HAD DONE WAS... HE
WAS ALL OF LIKE 10 YEARS OLD.
WHAT HE HAD DONE IS MADE A
CONNECTION WITH THE JANITOR AT
THE SCHOOL.
AND HE FOUND IN THE SHADOW OF
THE JANITOR THAT HE WAS SAFE,
RIGHT?
HE DIDN'T GET JOSTLED IN THE
HALLWAYS AND HE HAD A PLACE TO
GO AT RECESS AND EVERYTHING
ELSE.
THE FUNNY PART OF THE STORY IS
EVENTUALLY THIS JANITOR IS A
SALT OF THE EARTH KIND OF GUY,
SAYS TO THIS KID, IF YOU'RE
ALWAYS AROUND ME, YOU BETTER
PICK UP A BROOM AND GIVE ME A
HAND.
THAT'S KIND OF FUNNY IN ONE WAY.
IT ALSO MEANT THAT THE KID
SUDDENLY HAD A PLACE, A PURPOSE
IN THE SCHOOL.
AND THE OTHER KIDS BEGAN TO SEE
HIM AS KIND OF LIKE, OKAY, YOU
HAVE A ROLE HERE.
IN FACT, WHEN THEY'D WALK ON THE
FLOOR HE JUST MOPPED OR SWEPT,
EXCUSE ME, I'M WALKING ON YOUR
FLOOR.
AND THE WAY I SEE IT...

Steve says THE KID HAS STATUS.

Michael says HE HAS SOMETHING TO BE PROUD
OF AND RELATIONSHIPS.
THE SCHOOLS ARE SO OFTEN THE
PLACE WHERE WE CAN CREATE
POWERFUL IDENTITIES, JUST
BECAUSE... JUST LIKE A FAMILY
CAN AS WELL.

Steve says NOW, CONVERSELY, ON
THE OTHER SIDE, I'VE HEARD YOU
TALK ABOUT THE LITTLE THIEF
STORY.
DO YOU WANT TO TELL THAT STORY?

Michael says THE LITTLE THIEF.
I MET A 6-YEAR-OLD LITTLE GIRL
WHO WAS BROUGHT TO ME BY HER
MOM.
THE STORY WAS, THE MOM SAID, YOU
KNOW, "FIX THE LITTLE THIEF," IF
YOU CAN BELIEVE IT?
WHAT A THING.
POOR LITTLE THING.

Steve says SHE DESCRIBED HER
LITTLE KID AS THE LITTLE THIEF.

Michael says MOM WAS PRETTY STRESSED
BECAUSE THIS LITTLE GIRL, GRADE
ONE, NEW TO THE COMMUNITY.
SHE HAD FIGURED OUT TO MAKE
FRIENDS, WHAT SHE HAD DONE IS
SNEAK OFF THE PLAYGROUND AT
LUNCHTIME AND GO ACROSS TO A
STORE, GET A LITTLE BROWN PAPER
BAG OF GUMMY BEARS AND ALL THOSE
KIND OF TREATS AND MANAGED TO
SNEAK OUT OF THE STORE, STEALING
THE CANDY, BRING IT BACK TO THE
PLAYGROUND AND GIVE IT OUT.
THAT WAS HER WAY OF MAKING
FRIENDS.
SO WHEN WE INTERVENED BOTH AS A
MENTAL HEALTH TEAM AND AS A
SCHOOL TEAM, WHAT WE DID WAS WE
MADE HER IMPORTANT IN THE
SCHOOL, SO SHE WOULDN'T HAVE TO
MAKE FRIENDS BY STEALING.
AND WE GAVE HER AN OPPORTUNITY,
THOUGH SHE WAS IN GRADE ONE, WE
GAVE HER AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO
JK, THE JUNIOR KINDERGARTEN, AND
WORK AS A LITTLE TEACHER, A
JUNIOR TEACHER.
FOR HER, AGAIN, THAT STATUS, I'M
IMPORTANT HERE, I BELONG,
EVERYTHING IS GREAT.
WHAT IT DID IS IT CHANGED HER
RELATIONSHIP TO HER PEERS, IT
GAVE HER A POWERFUL IDENTITY, IT
MADE HER FEEL LIKE SHE BELONGED
IN SCHOOL, AND WE WORKED ON THE
MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP
BECAUSE MOM WAS SO BUSY AND NEW
TO THE COMMUNITY AND WORKING SO
HARD THAT SHE WASN'T PAYING
ENOUGH ATTENTION TO HER
DAUGHTER.
ONCE THAT WAS POINTED OUT,
BETWEEN WHAT HAPPENED AT SCHOOL
AND WHAT HAPPENED AT HOME, IT
WAS AN EASY FIX.

Steve says THIS QUEST FOR
STATUS REALLY SOUNDS LIKE IT'S
AT THE FOUNDATION OF A LOT OF
THIS STUFF.
NOW, THE SOLUTION SHE PICKED WAS
OBVIOUSLY THE WRONG SOLUTION.
BUT WE'VE GOT TO BE AWARE OF
THAT, DON'T WE?

Michael says I THINK WHEN YOU THINK OF IT
ALMOST LIKE... I SOMETIMES
DESCRIBE IT LIKE CIRQUE DU
SOLEIL, I'M JUGGLING THINGS IN
THE AIR, AMONG THOSE THINGS IS
ARE YOU PROVIDING NATURAL
CONSEQUENCES TO THE KIDS?
ARE YOU PROVIDING RELATIONSHIPS
TO YOU AND ALSO TO OTHERS?
WE CAN'T DO THIS ALONE.
ARE YOU GIVING THE KID A
POWERFUL IDENTITY, A SENSE OF
CONTROL, BELONGING, SAFETY,
SUPPORTS, RESPONSIBILITIES.
WHEN YOU START PUSHING ALL THAT
STUFF TOGETHER, WHICH IS
ACTUALLY WHAT I TALK ABOUT IN "I
STILL LOVE YOU," THE BOOK, WHEN
YOU PUSH IT ALTOGETHER, YOU'RE
MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR THAT
CHILD, NEXT TIME THEY HIT A
SPEED BUMP IN LIFE, SOMEBODY
BULLIES THEM, THEY FAIL AT
SOMETHING, GOD FORBID, SOMEONE
DIES IN THE FAMILY OR DIVORCE,
IF THEY HAVE ALL THAT WORKING
FOR THEM, THE RESEARCH IS CLEAR,
THEY WILL GO THROUGH THE CRISIS,
THEY WILL DIP IN THEIR
DEVELOPMENT, THEY WILL SLIDE A
LITTLE BIT, BUT THEY WILL COME
BACK BECAUSE THEY HAVE SO MANY
OF THOSE SUPPORTS AND AN
INTERNAL SENSE I CAN CHANGE MY
WORLD.
THESE ARE THE FOUNDATIONS FOR A
CHILD THAT WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.

The caption changes to "Michael Ungar. Author of ‘I still love you’."

The caption changes to "How to teach resilience. Providing resources."

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
THAT EXAMPLE.
IF A CHILD UNDERGOES A
SIGNIFICANT TRAUMA, GOD FORBID
THE DEATH OF A PARENT OR SIBLING
OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, WHAT IS
THE TYPICAL TYPE OF BEHAVIOUR
GENERALLY DEMONSTRATED IN THE
IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH?

Michael says WHAT YOU'LL SEE, AS A PARENT,
WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SEE IS
MOSTLY A CHANGE.
OBVIOUSLY IF YOU HAVE A CHILD
THAT'S ALREADY OUTRAGEOUSLY IN
THEIR BEHAVIOUR AND SCREAMING
AND RESISTANT AND SAYS NO, NO,
NO TO EVERYTHING, YOU MIGHT SEE
A SOCIALLY WITHDRAWN OR SHY OR
QUIET CHILD.
THE OPPOSITE WILL HAPPEN.
A QUIET CHILD MAY BECOME VERY
RESISTANT, VERY ANGRY, NOT
WANTING TO GO TO BED, THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS, CHANGES IN
EATING HABITS, PLAY HABITS,
FRIENDS, BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS, A
LACK OF ATTENTION, YOU KNOW,
BEDTIME ROUTINES WILL BE
SHIFTED.
WHEN YOU START SEEING DRAMATIC
SHIFTS, IT'S USUALLY A SIGN THAT
THE CHILD IS UNDER SIGNIFICANT
STRESS.
OBVIOUSLY YOU SHOULD, IF IT'S
SEVERE, YOU SHOULD GET
PROFESSIONAL HELP.
HOPEFULLY PEOPLE WILL HAVE A
PLACE THAT THEY CAN REACH OUT.
BUT THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO
TO STABILIZE THAT SITUATION.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda podcasts: tvo.org/theagenda."

Steve says SUCH AS.

Michael says SUCH AS, MAKE SURE THERE ARE
ROUTINES.
AFTER NATURAL DISASTERS, ONE OF
THE THINGS WE KNOW HELPS IS
GETTING KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL AND
INTO THEIR PEER GROUPS AS FAST
AS POSSIBLE.
WE ALSO KNOW FROM KIDS THAT ARE
UNDER MAJOR STRESS THAT IF YOU
MAKE SURE THERE'S SOME SORT OF
CULTURAL CONTINUITY, THE SENSE
THAT THEY'RE STILL PART OF A
COMMUNITY, THERE'S STILL A SENSE
OF VALUES THAT, BEFORE AND
AFTER, LIKE THEY'RE THE SAME
PERSON SOMEHOW, THAT THEY'RE
TREATED FAIRLY, THAT... BECAUSE
OFTEN SAY AFTER A DIVORCE, THE
BIGGEST TRAUMA FOR KIDS IS OFTEN
THEY CHANGE HOUSES, THEY CHANGE
COMMUNITIES.
WE THINK IT'S ALWAYS THE LOSS OF
A PARENT, BUT ACTUALLY... THAT
STINGS THE CHILD BUT YOU'D BE
SURPRISED HOW MANY CHILDREN NOTE
I HAD TO CHANGE SCHOOLS, I HAD
TO CHANGE HOMES, I HAD TO CHANGE
FRIENDS.
IT'S THAT COMPOUNDED EFFECT.

Steve says LOSING YOUR
FOUNDATION.

Michael says LEAVING YOUR FOUNDATION.
IT'S THOSE RELATIONSHIPS, THE
WAY PEOPLE KNOW ME.
MAYBE AT SCHOOL I PLAYED ON A
SPORTS TEAM OR I WAS A PART OF A
CLUB OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
WHEN YOU BEGIN TO FRACTURE SO
MANY OF THOSE RELATIONSHIPS,
THOSE HOBBIES, THOSE INTERESTS,
THOSE IDENTITIES, THOSE
EXPERIENCES OF POWER AND
CONTROL, OF COURSE WHEN SOMEONE
PASSES AWAY OR DIVORCE HAPPENS,
AS A CHILD YOU CONSIDER THAT A
THREAT TO YOUR CONTROL, THESE
ARE THE THINGS THAT ACTUALLY
POTENTIALLY TRAUMATIZE CHILDREN.
AND OF COURSE WE CAN FIX THOSE
AS ADULTS.

Steve says IN THOSE MOMENTS
WHEN A PARENT IS TRYING TO
INCULCATE SKILLS OF RESILIENCY
AFTER SOMETHING TRAUMATIC
HAPPENS, I GUESS THERE'S A SWEET
SPOT TO FIND BETWEEN TOO MUCH IN
THE KID'S FACE AND TRYING TO BE
WITH THEM EVERY SECOND OF THE
DAY AND JUST KIND OF AVOIDING
THEM ALTOGETHER AND LETTING THEM
FIND THEIR OWN WAY.
DO YOU KNOW HOW WE FIND THAT
SWEET SPOT?

Michael says YEAH.
FIRST OF ALL, DON'T TRY AND BE
THE CHILD'S FRIEND.
THEY DON'T NEED A FRIEND.

Steve says THEY STILL NEED A
PARENT.

Michael says THEY NEED A PARENT.
THEY NEED SOMEONE WHO IS GOING
TO PROVIDE THE STRUCTURE, THE
REASONABLE CONSEQUENCES AND WHO
THE CHILD CAN, IN A SENSE, SOME
PARENTS WILL SAY, MY CHILD IS AN
ABSOLUTE... WHATEVER WORD YOU
WANT TO PUT IN THERE.
BUT THEN THEY WILL BE OUT IN A
PUBLIC SITUATION, LIKE THE MALL
AND MEET A NEIGHBOUR AND THE
CHILD IS ACTUALLY DARLING.
AND YOU KIND OF GO, IS THIS MY
SAME KID?
I THINK WE NEED TO REALIZE THAT
IN A SENSE WE ARE... A CHILD WHO
IS WELL-BONDED TO US AS A PARENT
WILL ACTUALLY PUSH BACK BECAUSE
WE'RE SAFE.
WE'RE THE ONES THAT THEY CAN
EXPRESS IT TOO.
I THINK PARENTS INTUITIVELY KNOW
THAT.
BUT THE POINT IS, WE HELP A
CHILD BY MAINTAINING THE
CONTINUITY.
WE ARE THE STABLE ONE.
WE'RE THE ONES THAT REMINDS THE
CHILD THAT YOU HAVE SOMETHING
SPECIAL TO BE.
WE HAVE EXPECTATIONS OF YOU TO
BE SOMETHING BETTER.

Steve says THAT'S A VERY
INTERESTING TAKE ON BAD
BEHAVIOUR, THAT SOMEHOW THEY
FEEL POWERFUL ENOUGH TO
DEMONSTRATE IT TO YOU BECAUSE
THEY FEEL CLOSEST TO YOU AND
THEY KNOW YOU CAN HANDLE IT.

Michael says ISN'T IT AWFUL AS A PARENT
THAT WE GET THAT?

Steve says THAT'S AN
INTERESTING INTERPRETATION, BUT
IT'S A SHAME IN SOME RESPECTS.

Michael says SOMETIMES THAT BAD
BEHAVIOUR... I WRITE QUITE OFTEN
THAT THERE'S HIDDEN... THERE'S
THIS PATTERN OF WHAT'S CALLED
HIDDEN RESILIENCE, A TERM I'VE
USED TO BASICALLY SAY, LOOK,
SOMETIMES A PATTERN OF BEHAVIOUR
IS THE BEST THE CHILD CAN DO TO
COPE IN A SITUATION THAT'S BAD.
SO EVEN A CHILD WHO BECOMES
SOCIALLY WITHDRAWN OR ANXIOUS
MAY BE USING THOSE SETS OF
BEHAVIOURS AS A WAY OF COPING
WITH A THREATENING ENVIRONMENT.
IF YOU REMOVE THE THREAT OF THE
ENVIRONMENT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S
NO MORE BULLIES AT SCHOOL OR
THEY ARE SUCCEEDING BECAUSE THEY
GET A TUTOR OR SOMETHING LIKE
THAT, QUITE OFTEN THE BEHAVIOUR
SORT OF MELTS AWAY AS WELL
BECAUSE THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND
THEM CHANGES AND THEY CAN FIND A
DIFFERENT ADAPTIVE WAY OF
COPING.
I KNOW IT'S ODD TO SAY SOMETIMES
THOSE BEHAVIOURS THAT ARE
TROUBLING ARE ACTUALLY A SIGN OF
RESILIENCE, BUT AGAIN, FOR ME,
THE QUESTION IS, RESILIENCE
ISN'T STATIC.
IT'S NOT LIKE THE CHILD IS
RESILIENT OR NOT RESILIENT.
I ALWAYS SAY TELL ME THE RISK
FACTORS, TELL ME THE
ENVIRONMENT, TELL ME HOW THE
BEHAVIOUR GIVES THE CHILD AN
OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE SOME
ROUTINES, FEEL CONNECTED, LIKE
THEMSELVES MORE, AND IF THEY'RE
FINDING THAT THROUGH A BAD
BEHAVIOUR, IF IT'S STORMING OUT
OF THE HOUSE OR RUNNING AWAY OR
WHATEVER, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT,
ARE THOSE BAD BEHAVIOURS GIVING
THEM WHAT THEY NEED?
AND OUR JOB AS PARENTS, FIND A
SUBSTITUTE.
GIVE THEM ANOTHER PATH TO GET
THOSE NEEDS MET IN A SOCIALLY
DESIRABLE, FAMILY-ORIENTED,
POSITIVE WAY AND OFTEN CHILDREN
ACCEPT OUR INVITATION.

Steve says DOES YOUR RESEARCH
INDICATE WHETHER THIS IS A
BIGGER PROBLEM, THE ISSUE OF
RESILIENCY, AMONG BOYS VERSUS
GIRLS OR URBAN VERSUS RURAL KIDS
OR KIDS WHO LIVE IN HOT CLIMATES
ALL THE TIME VERSUS COLDER
CLIMATES, ANY OF THAT KIND OF
STUFF?

Michael says IT'S PRETTY... WHAT WE'LL SEE
IS DIFFERENT PATTERNS OF
RESILIENCE, BOYS AND GIRLS.
AS MUCH AS WE SAY WE LIKE TO
TREAT OUR CHILDREN EQUALLY AND
CREATE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES,
THAT'S NOT THE REAL WORLD.
SO GIRLS WILL PROBABLY... WHAT
WE SEE IN OUR RESEARCH,
SOMETIMES GIRLS WILL EXPRESS
THEIR RESILIENCE IN DIFFERENT
WAYS.
ONE REALLY INTERESTING THING WE
FOUND, WHEN WE STUDIED
RESILIENCE IN BOYS AND GIRLS
AROUND THE WORLD, 14 COUNTRIES,
FIVE CONTINENTS, A GIRL IN A
SCHOOL IN TANZANIA HAD MORE IN
COMMON WITH A GIRL IN DOWNTOWN
HALIFAX THAN THOSE GIRLS HAD
WITH THE BOYS SITTING NEXT TO
THEM.

Steve says INTERESTING.

Michael says AND WE KIND OF FIGURED THAT
BECAUSE THE GIRLS HAD THIS
UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE OF BEING
PUSHED ASIDE, TREATED LESSER,
THE SEXISM THAT'S INHERENT IN
MANY OF OUR CULTURES AND
SOCIETIES, THAT THEY COULD
ACTUALLY SHARE THE THINGS THAT
THEY NEEDED TO BE MORE
RESILIENT, A CERTAIN ROBUSTNESS,
A CERTAIN CAPACITY TO TALK BACK,
A CERTAIN SENSE OF IDENTITY...
ALL THESE THINGS, THEY SHARED
THAT, EVEN THOUGH THEY LIVED
LITERALLY HALF A WORLD AWAY.
WHILE THE BOYS NEXT TO THEM
SHOWED A LOT MORE DIFFERENCES
ACROSS COUNTRIES.

Steve says THAT IS FASCINATING.

Michael says IT'S THE KIND OF STUFF THAT
GETS YOU BACK INTO THINKING,
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR KID
ACTUALLY NEEDS IN THAT
PARTICULAR MOMENT, IN THAT
PARTICULAR COMMUNITY.
WHAT WOULD THEY FEEL GOOD ABOUT
LEARNING FROM YOU, TO RIDE THE
BUS OR HAVE AN OUTDOOR
EXPERIENCE DURING THE SUMMER?
WHAT IS IT THAT THEY NEED THAT'S
GOING TO BUILD FOR THEM WHERE
YOU LIVE THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF
KNOWING, I'M POWERFUL, I HAVE
DECISION-MAKING POWER, I FEEL
CONNECTED TO OTHERS AND I'M
BEING TREATED FAIRLY?

Steve says JUST KIND OF REMINDS
ME WE ADULTS STILL HAVE A HELL
OF A LOT OF WORK TO DO, DON'T
WE?

Michael says I'M OPTIMISTIC THOUGH.

Steve says THAT'S MICHAEL UNGAR,
HE'S A PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL
OF SOCIAL WORK AT DALHOUSIE
UNIVERSITY, ALSO A CANADA
RESEARCH CHAIR IN CHILD, FAMILY
AND COMMUNITY RESILIENCE.
AND WE'RE GLAD YOU SPARED SOME
TIME FOR US AT TVO TONIGHT.
THANKS SO MUCH.

Michael says TOTAL PLEASURE.

The caption changes to "How to teach resilience. Producer: Meredith Martin. @MeredithMartin."

Watch: How to Teach Resilience