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Parents need to help children build resilience

Past experiences can cause trauma, resilience can lead to growth

resilience, cornell cooperative extension

Parents are often encouraged to practice self-care. But what does that mean, other than possibly purchasing a spa treatment, taking some time to oneself and maybe meditating? The recently formed Orange County Resilience Project is looking at ways that help reduce stress for families, which could have a potentially negative impact on children's health and well-being long-term.

The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study shows that experiencing divorce or parental separation, having a parent who suffers from depression, being physically, emotionally or sexually abused, experiencing food insecurity or losing a parent and similar stressful situations, increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental illness and much more. Many parents might have these kinds of experiences in their own past, which often times comes up in interactions with their own children, even if just with the resolve that I am going to be a different kind of parent.

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Julika von Stackelberg, parenting and family life educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension and co-chair of the Orange County Parenting Coalition says that "the more parents know how to reduce their own stress, be it due to trying to balance the family budget or problems in their relationship, the more they actively buffer their children from stress that could harm them. This also helps children develop their own kind of resilience, which will add to their overall health and wellbeing."

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In an effort to mobilize the Hudson Valley to take conscious measures that help increase resilience in our communities, and to drastically improve our health outcomes, the Orange County Resilience Project, in collaboration with the Orange County Parenting Coalition is looking for parents who are interested in hosting a community cafe. A community cafe is a kind of forum where parents and caregivers are invited to talk about their needs and concerns in relationships to their desire to be the best parents they can possibly be. The community cafe includes a screening of the one-hour documentary Resilience, which illustrates how trauma can affect us long-term, but also how developing resilience can lead to post-traumatic growth.

Other articles by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County