August 28, 2003

American Psychological Association Launches Campaign to Help Kids & Teens with Stress and Trauma

WASHINGTON — Reading, writing, arithmetic and…resilience? Resilience, the fourth "r," is being added to the lesson plans in schools throughout the country this fall with the launch of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Resilience for Kids & Teens campaign.

The campaign, "Resilience for Kids & Teens," focuses on teaching the skills of resilience, or the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress. Research has shown a whole range of behaviors and actions associated with resilience, and while some kids may already possess these behaviors, those who don't can learn these behaviors and build their resilience.

"Children are frequently asked to deal with problems ranging from adapting to a new classroom to bullying by classmates or even abuse at home," said Dr. Russ Newman, APA's executive director for professional practice. "The start of a new school year can be a very stressful time and, in addition, children can often feel their parents' stresses and uncertainties. The ability to thrive despite these challenges arises from the skills of resilience."

The campaign launch includes the distribution of a special issue of Time for Kids (TFK) Magazine on the topic of resilience. The TFK Magazine helps children learn the skills of resilience, using "kid-friendly" language, and describes resilience as the ability to bounce back. The language was developed using parents, teachers and child psychologists.

APA Tips For Building Resilience:

  1. Have friends and be a friend. Lean on friends, family, and school psychologists, and let your friends and family lean on you sometimes.
  2. Believe in yourself and what you know and can do. Remind yourself what you're good at.
  3. Take charge of your behavior and actions. Tackle tricky situations head-on; just trying something can boost your self-esteem.
  4. Look on the bright side. Even the worst experience can teach you something important about yourself.
  5. Set new goals and make a plan to reach them. Be realistic and realize that reaching goals takes time, but be proud of your achievements along the way.

The TFK special issue was created because the APA and TFK found that teachers were eager for language they could use in classrooms that would help children deal with the situations they face at school and at home.

The TFK magazine will be sent to more than 2 million fourth- through sixth-graders and their teachers this fall. In addition, APA is offering an online brochure for parents and teachers who want to help children build resilience, and an online brochure aimed at teens, to which MTV contributed. Both brochures will be available at APA's online help center, www.APAHelpCenter.org. APA's grassroots network of more than 50,000 psychologists will use the materials to conduct community outreach that helps build resilience.

The Resilience for Kids & Teens campaign is an outgrowth of APA's successful Road to Resilience campaign, which first looked at the skills of resilience shortly after September 11, 2001. "Resilience isn't going to protect kids from unhappiness - that's a normal part of life," Newman said. "What it will do is inoculate children from the inside out with skills and strategies that will help them face the things that come their way."

About The American Psychological Association (APA) The APA, located in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. Its membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. APA works to advance psychology as a science and profession and as a means of promoting health, education, and human welfare.