Vulnerability and resilience

Vulnerability and resilience are two important concepts to understand child development better.

Vulnerabilities are various negative traits and weaknesses that a child may bring from his genetic background, or from a child’s personality:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Difficult temperament, irritability
  • Physical abnormality

The environment also heavily influences a child development.  This environment can be beneficial for the child development, or can be detrimental.  For instance, a detrimental environment could be:

  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Poverty
  • Insalubrious environment
  • Abusive environment
  • Parents fighting, divorce

Resilience is the capacity to overcome weaknesses from a child’s vulnerabilities or from the child’s environment.  Children are incredibly resilient, and they can overcome most negative conditions, provided that the child’s vulnerabilities are compensated by a protective environment.

The real problems starts when the child is growing in a poor environment, and also has high vulnerabilities, so there isn’t one to compensate the other. Here are some examples of a protective environment compensating for a child’s vulnerability:

  • The child has a difficult temperament, yet is nurtured by patient and careful parenting
  • The child has a weak health, yet is growing in a secure and safe environment with access to regular, high quality health care

At the opposite, here are examples of a poor environment, which will aggravate a child’s matching vulnerability. These combination will yield the worst outcome on the long run:

  • The child has a difficult temperament, and is raised in an abusive context
  • The child has a weak health, and is growing in an unhygienic environment
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