Links between protective factors, resilience, well-being and learning

Links between protective factors, resilience, wellbeing and learning

There are strong links between children’s wellbeing, resilience and learning.

Family, culture and community provide a context for children’s development (Bronfenbrenner’s [1986] socio-ecological model).

Children’s ability to reach their learning and development potential is reliant on their wellbeing and resilience (The Benevolent Society, 2014).

The number of protective factors a child and family have will boost their resilience, as shown in the diagram below. Their vulnerability will be impacted by the number of adverse life events they experience.

Early learning is key to boosting wellbeing and resilience (protective factor).

Risk and Resilience Matrix (Source: The Benevolent Society’s Resilience Practice Framework [2014, p. 11]. Used with permission)

Along the horizontal axis (vulnerability and resilience) of this diagram are internal factors (things outside the control of the child and family). e.g. some children are more resilient than others. However, the ability to be resilient is impacted by the number, severity and length of adverse life circumstances. The extrinsic factors on the vertical axis (protective factors and adversity) are those that the family might be able to adjust, but not always. e.g. a family might be able to seek support through friends, families, communities and organisations. They might be able to choose to move to another location that is less prone to bushfire or flood, or not engage in high-risk sports. However, this might be something they have no control of, e.g. a widespread drought, an inability to move from a high risk area for family reasons, or an inability to afford housing in a flood-free area.

It is important to note that:

  • a child's silence about an issue does not mean they are resilient
  • resilience should not become an excuse for lack of support (from family, friends, community, organisations, government), e.g. they are resilient, so they don't need support
  • children who act out are not necessarily less resilient than those who suffer in silence
  • resilience cannot be taken for granted - it needs support
  • resilience is greater in younger children because they are more malleable or don't know what is happening. Even babies know when a person is missing in the household, or someone who can cuddle and care for them is unavailable physically or emotionally. Babies know when household stress increases and family become less available.

Nurturing Care Framework

This aligns well with the internationally accepted Nurturing Care Framework that has 5 components, as shown in the diagram below.

The Nurturing Care Framework (WHO et al., 2018) describes the time between conception and 3 years as critical.

The Framework provides strategic direction for supporting children holistically during this critical time.

Nurturing Care Framework (Source: WHO et al. [2018])

Six domains of children's resilience

The Benevolent Society’s diagram displays 6 areas where nurturing care can impact children’s resilience.

Parents, educators and family/social workers can support all six domains.

Six domains of resilience (Source: The Benevolent Society’s Resilience Practice Framework [2014, p. 17]. Used wth permission)

The Eight Aboriginal Ways of Learning