ArticlePDF Available

Resilient Adaptation Among At-Risk Children: Harnessing Science Toward Maximizing Salutary Environments



Compiled in this Special Section are recommendations from multiple experts on how to maximize resilience among children at risk for maladjustment. Contributors delineated processes with relatively strong effects and modifiable by behavioral interventions. Commonly highlighted was fostering the well-being of caregivers via regular support, reduction of maltreatment while promoting positive parenting, and strengthening emotional self-regulation of caregivers and children. In future work, there must be more attention to developing and testing interventions within real-world settings (not just in laboratories) and to ensuring feasibility in procedures, costs, and assessments involved. Such movement will require shifts in funding priorities—currently focused largely on biological processes—toward maximizing the benefits from large-scale, empirically supported intervention programs for today's at-risk youth and families.
Maximizing Resilience
Resilient adaptation among at-risk children:
Harnessing science toward maximizing salutary environments
Suniya S. Luthar & Nancy Eisenberg
Arizona State University
In press, Child Development: Introduction to Special Section on
Developmental Research and Translational Science:
Evidence-based Interventions for At-risk Youth and Families
Pre-Publication version;
for published article, please email
Luthar gratefully acknowledges Susan Budinger and the Rodel Foundation for support of
her ongoing work with at-risk mothers, and Eisenberg's work was supported by a grant from
NICHD (101 HD068522).
Section Editors’ Note: We had 81 Letters of Intent submitted in response to the Call
for Papers. Considering specific criteria in the call, independent rankings by Luthar and
Eisenberg led to invitation of 18 articles. Although often raising important issues, proposals that
were not selected did not focus sufficiently on the specific criteria for the Special Section, e.g.,
they were either general (more on theory than on tested interventions), or too narrow
(describing one particular program). All submitted manuscripts were reviewed by at least two if
not three external reviewers and then (with one exception) also by both Section editors; due to a
conflict of interest with both editors, one manuscript was handled by Associate Editor Carlo
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Suniya S. Luthar,
Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, 950 S. McAllister Dr, Tempe, AZ 85287-
1104. Electronic mail may be sent to
Maximizing Resilience
Resilient adaptation among at-risk children:
Harnessing science toward maximizing salutary environments
Compiled in this Special Section are recommendations from multiple experts on how to
maximize resilience among children at risk for maladjustment. Contributors delineated
processes with relatively strong effects and modifiable by behavioral interventions. Commonly
highlighted was fostering the well-being of caregivers via regular support; reduction of
maltreatment while promoting positive parenting; and strengthening emotional self-regulation of
caregivers and children. In future work, there must be more attention to developing and testing
interventions within real-world settings (not just in laboratories), and to ensuring feasibility in
procedures, costs, and assessments involved. Such movement will require shifts in funding
priorities -- currently focused largely on biological processes – toward maximizing the benefits
from large-scale, empirically supported intervention programs for today's at-risk youth and
Maximizing Resilience
In this Special Section, our goal was to distill what we have learned from science about
maximizing the well-being of children and families at risk for psychological maladjustment. With
over six decades of research on childhood risk and resilience (Cicchetti & Curtis, 2006; Luthar,
Crossman, & Small, 2015; Masten & Narayan, 2012), applied scientists are at a juncture where
we can, and indeed should, distill robust findings to derive top priorities for interventions.
Considering the rich extant evidence on various “protective processes,” we need to pinpoint
those that can be changed via psychological or behavioral interventions, are likely to have
relatively strong effects, and can be feasibly implemented in real-world settings (Luthar et al.,
2015). Toward this end, we sought to bring together the take-home messages identified by
eleven sets of experts regarding empirical evidence on different “at-risk” groups, to ascertain
commonalities in central priorities, and to discuss pressing needs and future directions for the
Before summarizing these recommendations, it is worth clarifying the particulars of what
we sought from contributors: Most importantly, the call was specificity and depth rather than
breadth. As developmental scientists, we are generally trained to think in terms of multi-level
influences (from the publication of Bronfenbrenner’s seminal model onwards). In this collection
of papers, by contrast, we asked authors to stay away from broad-strokes, comprehensive
models (e.g., involving society, community, family, and the child) and instead -- with an eye
toward informing policies -- to hone in on the one, two, or three well-defined processes that they
would target to implement change. This type of specificity resonates with Sunstein’s (2015, p.
765) recommendations on how psychological research can be best used to interest
policymakers; optimal suggestions “..are simple, and clear and suitable for actual
implementation, preferably in the short term,” and besides being specific and feasible, should
pass cost-benefit analyses. Furthermore, Sunstein (2015) cautioned that although
psychologists often provide valuable insights into important larger societal problems such as
poverty, discrimination, and terrorism, discussions of these issues tend not to provide action
steps that are clearly outlined, cost-effective, and imminently implementable.
Thus, in our own request to authors submitting articles for this Special Section, we
sought actionable directions for intervention approaches benefiting at-risk children and families,
with details of “who,” "what," "why," and "how." Authors were asked to elucidate the
characteristics of the group targeted, the nature of the processes to be altered, the scientific
evidence to support their prioritization, the procedures for bringing about change, and the
methods to document intervention gains. Explicit attention to pragmatics was essential with
consideration of costs, durability of effects, feasibility of implementation, and approaches to
dissemination. Importantly, authors were asked not to describe a particular program (e.g.,
developed by their own group), but rather an overall strategy studied by multiple laboratories,
with exemplars of well-tested interventions.
Central Recommendations
Table 1 includes a summary of the authors’ recommendations. Within this table, we have
noted the top risk-modifiers identified by each set of authors, and indicated alongside how they
suggested that each should be targeted.
Caregiver Well-being: Supportive Relationships
As can be seen in Table 1, the two processes most consistently noted were the well-
being of the primary caregiver – typically the mother – and attention to specific dysfunctional
parenting behaviors. The focus on psychological, emotional support for mothers was explicitly
noted in at least five instances, in the articles on single mothers, depressed mothers, those at
risk for maltreatment, and both articles on early childhood interventions for children in poverty
(Goodman & Garber; Morris, Robinson, Hays-Grudo, Claussen, & Hartwig, this issue; Reynolds,
Mondi, Ou & Hayakawa, this issue; Taylor & Conger, this issue; Valentino, this issue).
Maximizing Resilience
Contributors highlighted the need to ensure ongoing nurturance and support for mothers
through relational, interpersonal therapeutic approaches and by fostering close networks with
people in their everyday life settings. This recommendation is entirely synchronous with current
conceptual perspectives on resilience (Luthar et al., 2015). Importantly, it is also supported by
research showing multiple benefits of relational interventions for diverse groups of at-risk
mothers, ranging from low-income women with mental illnesses such as substance abuse and
depression (Luthar, 2015; Swartz et al., 2016; Toth Gravener-Davis, Guild, & Cicchetti, 2013) to
professional mothers negotiating high everyday work stress (Luthar, Curlee, Tye, Engelman, &
Stonnington, 2017).
Of the remaining six articles, in three, the well-being of caregivers was emphasized not
necessarily through external supports but rather via improved quality of adult relationships in the
proximal settings of the family and school. Minimizing co-parents’ conflict and enhancing
cooperation in the couple’s relationship was the primary focus for both Pruett, Pruett, Cowan, &
Cowan (this issue), and Harold, Leve, & Sellers (this issue). This emphasis makes good sense
for all families where both parents are involved in raising the child, even when parents are not
co-residing. In the setting of K-12 schools, Domitrovich, Durlak, Staley, & Weissberg (this issue)
explicitly noted supports for teachers (who, second to parents, are major caregivers and
socializers; see Sabol & Pianta, 2012): K-12 teachers are among professionals with the highest
levels of stress and burnout, and social and emotional support from colleagues are among the
most salient factors that have buffering effects (Chang, 2009). In all these instances, the
emphasis on mutual supports resonates with the broad tenet, in prevention science, that
successful evidence-based prevention programs encourage people to recognize, praise, and
reinforce others around them in their everyday lives (Biglan & Embry, 2013).
Finally, across the recommendations in this Special Section, warmth and caring from the
intervention personnel was a clear mandate; in efficacious interventions, therapists or teachers
generally are accepting of their clients while “gently guiding them to behave more effectively”
(Biglan & Embry, 2013). Empathy, compassion, and supportiveness of program staff are
cardinal components within programs ranging from those targeting new mothers (Olds et al.,
2014) and foster parents (Dozier et al., 2006; Fisher et al., 2006), to parents struggling with
family management (Dishion et al., 2008) and those contending with divorce (Wolchick et al.,
2002). When asked about why the Family Check-Up “works,” Dishion said, “If I had to pick one
thing, it would be kindness – to a group of chronically disenfranchised, highly stressed, low-
resource parents.” (T. J. Dishion, personal communication, June 30, 2016.)
Specific Parenting Behaviors
In terms of specific parenting behaviors, contributors highlighted the need to avert harsh,
insensitive parenting behaviors, and concomitantly, to foster nurturing, loving interactions
(Goodman & Garber, this issue; Modecki, Zimmer-Gembeck, & Guerra, this issue; Morris et al. ,
this issue; Pruett et al. , this issue; Reynolds et al. , this issue; Valentino, this issue). Again, this
resonates with the conclusion from resilience research that prolonged maltreatment is the single
biggest environmental vulnerability factor for children’s maladjustment (Luthar et al., 2015). It is
also synchronous with prevention scientists’ exhortations to prioritize the minimizing of harsh
behavior patterns and fostering of nurturing ones (Biglan & Embry, 2013).
Contributors to this Special Section described several strategies shown to help highly
stressed parents to respond to children’s demands and needs not with harshness and
impatience, but with sensitivity and support. Frequently, this involves feedback based on dyadic
parent behaviors actually observed by program staff (as in toddler-parent interactions, see
Morris et al., this issue; Valentino, this issue). In other instances, parents are helped to
understand and avoid specific behavior patterns that can inadvertently reinforce negative child
behaviors and, conversely, to develop positive strategies that reinforce adaptive child behaviors
(see Crnic, Neece, McIntyre, Blacher, & Baker, this issue). For example, Smith, St. George, &
Maximizing Resilience
Prado (this issue) recommended encouraging parents’ provision of healthy foods at home on an
everyday basis to foster good eating habits and prevent obesity, whereas Reynolds et al. (this
issue) discussed the importance for young children’s scholastic readiness of enhancing parents’
expectations of them, and involvement in children’s education-related activities.
Across all articles, the third theme that came up recurrently was fostering self-regulation
and coping skills among parents as well as children themselves (Crnic et al., this issue; Morris
et al., this issue; Goodman & Garber, this issue; Modecki et al., this issue). This again makes
good sense because capacities for self-regulation are at the basis of, or shape, multiple aspects
of responding related to maladjustment and adjustment, including expressing anger and
negative emotion and depressive rumination at one end, to social competence, personality
resiliency, good quality of relationships with caregivers, and success in and comfort at
schooling, at the other (for reviews, see Eisenberg, Eggum, Vaughan, & Edwards, 2010;
Eisenberg, Hofer, et al., 2014; Eisenberg, Taylor, Widaman, & Spinrad, 2015; Nolen-Hoeksema,
1991). The development of self-regulation and effective coping strategies in childhood also
predicts externalizing and internalizing symptoms across time, as well as important aspects of
competence and well-being in adolescence and adulthood (see Belsky Fearon, & Bell, 2007;
Bridgett Burt, Edwards, & Deater-Deckard, 2015; Caspi, 1998; Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Eggum,
Importantly, well-regulated parents are relatively likely to use supportive, nonpunitive
parenting techniques (e.g., Cumberland-Li, Eisenberg, Champion, Gershoff, & Fabes, 2004;
Cuevas et al., 2014) that, as already mentioned, have been associated with a range of positive
outcomes in interventions with children. Moreover, the types of supportive parenting practices
encouraged in interventions discussed in this Special Section have been found to predict the
development of children’s self-regulatory skills at a subsequent point in time (see Eisenberg,
Smith, & Spinrad, 2016, for a review), sometimes even when controlling for prior levels of
children’s self-regulation. Therefore, interventions that foster self-regulation in parents as well as
children probably have additive and mutually reinforcing positive effects on children’s
It is also important to promote both children’s and parents’ self-regulation skills because
parents are likely to adjust their parenting behavior in some contexts based on how regulated
their children behave (e.g., Bridgett et al., 2009), and the relation between parenting and
children’s self-regulation is likely bi-directional (e.g., Belsky et al., 2007; Eisenberg, Taylor, et al.,
2015). Regulation and emotionality between children and parents do seem to be related to the
degree of conflictual interactions (see Eisenberg et al., 2008), as are aspects of executive
functioning in both (Cuevas et al., 2014; Valiente, Lemery-Chalfant, & Reiser, 2007).
In terms of fostering effective emotional self-regulation, the most often cited approach in
the Special Section articles was the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to modify faulty
cognitions and attributions, and to develop more effective strategies to regulate affect. CBT was
recommended for vulnerable parents – single mothers and those contending with depression or
ongoing poverty (Goodman & Garber, this issue; Morris et al., this issue; Taylor & Conger, this
issue), as was the use of mindfulness-based approaches, especially for parents of children with
disabilities (Crnic et al., this issue; also Goodman & Garber, this issue). Among school-age
children and adolescents, primary emphasis was on developing skills to regulate negative
emotions (anger in particular), which tend to contribute to better decision-making in everyday life
and improved social relationships (Domitrovich et al., this issue; Modecki et al., this issue).
What is the Role of Biological Indices in the Intervention Efforts?
Authors were asked to explicitly delineate measures that would be central in assessing
their endorsed interventions in real-world settings, and none recommended including biological
Maximizing Resilience
measures (e.g., genotypes or patterns of stress-related hormones). This likely reflects (a)
pragmatic concerns given the inevitable lack of funds to be able to profile hundreds of at-risk
children and then personalize community-based interventions based on their individual profiles,
as well as (b) ethical concerns regarding any suggestions of excluding some children from
prevention trials based on their biomarkers (Luthar & Brown, 2007).
On the issue of feasibility, authors were not equivocal. Contemporary researchers often
cite Gene X Environment (G X E ) studies (wherein particular genes interact with environmental
adversities to affect maladjustment) as having the potential to inform interventions. For
community-based programs, however, Harold et al. (this issue) underscore that “Having access
to genetic data is not commonplace among mental health service providers, particularly those
serving high-risk populations in community health settings” and further, “Recognizing the
challenges for practitioners in collecting, analyzing, and using DNA samples to gain this
information, we suggest instead that practitioners obtain detailed family histories of their clients
to assess heritable influences”. Resonant is Valentino’s (this issue) assertion that “Given the
associated costs and the nascent state of our knowledge regarding how this information may
inform … treatment recommendations, inclusion of biomarkers should not be brought to scale
as interventions are implemented outside the lab at this time.” Regarding the state of
knowledge on G x E processes specifically, Belsky and colleagues’ (2015, p. 19) concluded
plainly that “for now, the developmental biology linking genetic variation to complex
psychological phenotypes is far more conjecture than it is science”.
On the ethical front, an important issue explicated by Valentino (this issue), and echoed
by Harold and colleagues (this issue), is that biological data cannot dictate exclusion from
preventive interventions for known potent adversities, such as maltreatment or chronic
interparental conflict. It is plausible that biomarker data including genotyping could become
useful for identifying who will be more/less responsive to interventions, but this would not mean
that with a given sample of maltreated children, some would be deliberately excluded because
of their genetic profiles. (Again, conclusions from the Belsky et al. (2015) review were that
effects of insensitive mothering are in fact robust across many potential genetic moderators).
Acknowledging that children may have differential biological susceptibility to major stressors, the
Frameworks Institute’s Research Report (Kendall-Taylor, 2011) provided a simple, compelling
imperative, advocating a lowest common denominator approach to interventions. In general,
programs that help children who are highly sensitive to the quality of their environments also
benefit those who are less acutely sensitive. “This type of ’a rising tide lifts all boats’ explanation
is a direct policy implication of this science story.” Kendall-Taylor, 2011, p. 63). We agree:
Addressing the rising tide makes imminent sense for all children who face chronic maltreatment,
or prolonged chaos or violence in the home.
Although biological measures are not likely to be useful in large-scale community
interventions (the explicit focus in this Special Section), this in no way means that they are
unimportant for applied developmental research (Eisenberg, 2014; Luthar & Brown 2007). In
basic science, there is clear value to studying biological processes to understand multi-level
processes in development. In laboratory-based intervention studies as well, there are instances
when biological indices, supplementing self-report and behavioral outcome data, can be
invaluable when the goal is to demonstrate that novel interventions work well. When new
interventions are shown to improve not just subjective distress but also critical biological indices,
this can be compelling for future advocacy efforts. To illustrate, arguments for early childhood
interventions have received much ammunition from Cicchetti and colleagues’ seminal work
showing that early maltreatment has significant ill-effects on biology and the developing brain,
and as importantly, that sensitive, responsive caregiving can substantially reduce the negative
effects of toxic stress (Cicchetti, 1996; Cicchetti & Curtis, 2006; Cicchetti & Gunnar, 2008; see
also Shonkoff & Fisher, 2013).
Maximizing Resilience
Areas Needing Further Attention in Prevention Research
In the remainder of our commentary, we discuss future directions for translational
intervention science, beginning with a review of specific at-risk samples and constructs that
warrant further attention. We then discuss broader issues in future work in the field of
prevention, including approaches to intervention development, national funding priorities, and
advocacy efforts.
Discrete Subgroups and Dimensions
We need much more attention to interventions for fathers and father-figures; by far the
bulk of existing work on parenting including interventions has been based on work with mothers.
We simply cannot assume that what works well with mothers works the same way with fathers
(Cabrera, Fitzgerald, Bradley, & Roggman, 2014). To illustrate, programs based in supportive,
close relationships among women (service providers and community-based “mentor mothers”)
can be attractive in recruiting mothers (Valentino, this issue; Luthar, 2015), but they are unlikely
to attract men quite as strongly. For fathers, Pruett et al. (this issue) recommend concentrating
recruitment efforts in community settings where they are commonly found, including soccer
games, employment centers, and shopping malls; they also spell out specific strategies to foster
fathers’ engagement in treatment, once they have been recruited.
Noted by more than one set of authors in this Special Section is the need for more
attention to adolescence. In prevention science, there is much and appropriate attention to early
childhood. But the transition to adolescence poses a host of new developmental tasks and
challenges for children, and concomitantly, for their parents (Luthar & Ciciolla, 2016).
Domitrovich et al. (this issue) underscored that we need more school-based programs
developed and tested at the high school level. Goodman and Garber (this issue) discussed the
need for more interventions for depressed mothers with older children, as Valentino (this issue)
noted that among mother at risk for maltreatment, programs must consider parenting challenges
in the later childhood years as well.
None of the 11 sets of authors described processes specific to ethnic minorities, and the
reason for this is likely linked to our requirement to elucidate the most potent two or three
protective processes. Thus, all articles were focused on children’s proximal environments of
families and schools, where it is plausible that more than the issues specific to particular ethnic
minority groups (i.e., culture-specific mores and challenges), the powerful processes just
discussed -- minimizing abuse, neglect, harshness in relationships with major caregivers —
must be first priorities across diverse at-risk populations. At the same time, we must underscore
two caveats. First, promising interventions highlighted in this Special Section cannot be
assumed to be equally beneficial across different cultural groups: Generalizability of particular
strategies across contexts is often an empirical question. Second, there are highly inimical
macro-systemic processes, at the levels of communities and society, that also require urgent
attention in fostering resilience among children and families. These include processes that
threaten physical survival (chronic poverty, community violence or war), to those entailing
interpersonal hostilities such as implicit biases, homophobia, and discrimination (Luthar &
Brown, 2007; Masten & Narayan, 2012). Important directions on forces such as these are
effectively summarized by Yoshikawa, Whipps,and Rojas in their commentary on articles in this
Special Section.
In terms of outcomes that we seek to promote among at-risk children, we need attention
not just to averting psychopathology and improving everyday competence (e.g., good grades),
but also to fostering indicators reflecting doing for the greater good, such as altruistic behaviors
and compassion (see Biglan & Embry, 2013; Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Knafo-Noam, 2015; Luthar,
Lyman, & Crossman, 2015). Children who are prosocial and sympathetic toward others tend to
be socially competent, well regulated, low in externalizing problems, and express more positive
emotion and less negative emotion (Eisenberg, Spinrad, et al., 2015). Further, children who
Maximizing Resilience
give to others exhibit more happiness than when they receive the same resources for
themselves (Aknin, Hamlin, & Dunn, 2012), and socially anxious individuals who engage in acts
of kindness toward others reported increases in positive affect over time (Alden & Trew, 2013).
Programs designed to foster prosocial behaviors have resulted in significant gains among
intervention children, relative to controls, not just in prosocial behaviors but also in academic
grades, self-efficacy, and agreeableness by the end of middle school (Caprara et al., 2015; also
see Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Eggum, 2010; Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Knafo-Noam, 2015, for
Broad Paradigm Shifts: Focus on Contexts in Intervention Development
Beyond the specific research needs previously listed, there is a substantive, major shift
in direction that is needed in prevention science, and that is for more efforts focused on
developing programs in community settings. A recurrent theme in the Special Section is that we
have strong evidence regarding what is destructive and what is beneficial for at-risk children,
and even on how to address these processes in sophisticated, effective evidence-based
interventions, but far too little has been done to translate this knowledge into real-world
programs readily accessed by those most in need. This view resonates with what leaders in
clinical and prevention science have argued. Pointing to the low relevance of most laboratory-
based clinical research to actual practice, Weisz and his colleagues (Weisz, Ng, & Bearman,
2014; Weisz et al., 2015) called for using a “deployment-focused model” wherein interventions
are developed and tested, as soon as feasible, in the kinds of settings, and with the types of
clients and clinicians, for whom they are ultimately intended. In this model, efficacy testing of
treatment gains in laboratory-based studies would constitute just a brief initial phase in the
development of an intervention, whereas effectiveness testing, conducted under clinically
representative conditions (and thus establishing external validity), would be the dominant
research approach (for descriptions of innovative community-based strategies, see Chorpita &
Weisz, 2009; Weisz et al., 2015). Similar recommendations were provided by Biglan and Levin
(2016), who also caution that in contemporary approaches to translational research, there has
been too much focus on demonstrating the efficacy of interventions under highly controlled
circumstances as a precursor to testing them in everyday settings (see also Leslie et al., 2016).
We should note here that the need to consider context in interventions is by no means a
novel idea in applied developmental science; what is new is the still greater emphasis on
children’s proximal environments. For many years, there has been explicit recognition of the
limits of “pull out interventions” that try to foster particular skills in children without attention also
to their contexts. As noted by Modecki et al. (this issue), “Simply injecting youth with a set of
skills, only to introduce them back to an environment with inadequate supports is less likely to
lead to long-term gains.” Similarly, Domitrovitch et al. (this issue) argued that successful
school-based interventions are those that work not just with children but with teachers and staff
as well.
In recent commentaries in prevention and resilience science, recommendations are to
move the central focus further toward environmental contexts, affording in-depth attention to
processes that affect multiple outcomes. To illustrate, Biglan and Embry (2013) argued that in
future research on at-risk children, socializing forces that have traditionally been treated as
independent variables must themselves be considered as central dependent variables. In
parallel, Luthar et al. (2015) underscored that the well-being of caregivers should be considered
not only in terms of how they affect children’s functioning but as important dependent variables
in themselves, with research illuminating how best to help at-risk parents or parent-figures, as
well as teachers, to manifest resilient adaptation (Luthar & Ciciolla, 2015).
In addressing environmental contexts, a logical first step is to work with institutions to
minimize systemic deleterious influences within them and maximize nurturing ones (see
discussions of Domitrovitch et al. (this issue) and Reynolds et al. (this issue) on schools; also
Maximizing Resilience
Luthar et al., 2016, on workplace interventions). And in order to convince organizations to adopt
and maintain evidence-based interventions, research is needed that starts with an individual
organization, identifies plausible influences on that organizations practices, and manipulates
contextual influences to test effects on these practices (Biglan & Levin, 2016). As Weisz and
colleagues (2015) indicated, the successful implementation of interventions in community
settings necessitates research on the systemic supports needed to foster success of the
program, the best methods to train clinicians and to ensure fidelity in implementation, and on
modifications needed to the interventions to fit well with the organization’s practices and culture.
Moving beyond particular organizations or institutions to communities more broadly,
arguably, the single most viable target to incorporate promising prevention-based programs is
primary care facilities, wherein behavioral programs and medical pediatric care are provided in
one location. A group of pioneering prevention scientists (Leslie et al., 2016) has described how
effective family-focused prevention programs--including many of those described in this Special
Section such as Triple P, New Beginnings, Family Check-Up, and Incredible Years--can be
effectively integrated into primary care settings. They acknowledged barriers to implementation
including issues of stigma and limited funding streams, and provided concrete suggestions for
how to address these in the future (e.g., concerted advocacy including the use of the media,
and possible insurance reimbursements for family-based service programs likely to be
beneficial). The authors also cite evidence to show that a range of healthcare staff, including
community health workers, nurses, psychologists, and social workers, can be trained to
implement these programs successfully with little additional workload for primary health care
A related important area of emphasis in prevention involves entire communities. In this
Special Section, Morris et al. (this issue) underscored the importance of increasing the
availability of programs that strengthen parents’ social support and increase positive parent-
child interactions through the varied settings that low-income parents already access (e.g., not
just healthcare settings but also community and faith-based organizations, and schools). This
view is consistent with recommendations offered by other authors across disciplinary foci, with
emphases on using existing resources to keep costs low. Antonucci, Arouch, and Birditt (2013),
for example, urged efforts to systematically enhance mutually supportive relationships in
community settings such as residential communities. Several examples of therapeutic and
preventive strategies based in communities, accessible to many yet at relatively low cost, are
described by Kazdin and Rabbitt (2013) and Rotheram-Borus, Swendeman, and Chorpita
A blueprint example for effective multi-pronged community-based programs, working
upwards from a grassroots level, is seen in the state of Washington wherein multiple
organizations were actively involved with a shared, research-based understanding on how best
to reduce environmental toxins. To illustrate, one campaign increased awareness of concepts
of adversity and trauma among local families. Alongside, in a high school for students with
behavioral challenges, there was a shift from relying on punishment to deter misbehaviors to a
trauma-informed approach, with a resulting 85% reduction in suspension rates (for details, see
Mathematica, 2016). Such synergistic coming together of multiple organizations is critical in
being able to effectively advocate for programs and policies that make community
environments less toxic and more nurturing to families and children (Biglan & Embry, 2013).
From a research perspective, another way to think about these goals is in terms of
focusing on “multi-level” pathways --not in terms of the typical connotations of the phrase
(aspects of biology and the environment) but rather, in terms of malleable, discrete, salutary
relationship contexts that should themselves be examined as foci for change. We need
separate and deliberate attention to processes in different socializing contexts, understanding
how best to maximize well-being of mothers and fathers, teachers and early childhood
educators, day care and after school providers – and relationships with peers in elementary,
Maximizing Resilience
middle and high school, as well as with mentors as positive socializing influences (e.g.,
DuBois, Portillo, Rhodes, Silverthorn, & Valentine, 2011; Rhodes & Rhodes, 2009).
Concluding Remarks
In recent years, there have been several collections of articles addressing the core
question of how behavioral scientists can make a difference to humanity (e.g., Settersten &
McClelland, 2015; Teachman, Norton, & Spellman, 2015), reflecting a sense of urgency to use
science most effectively to help humankind. In our Special Section, we brought together
conclusions from 11 sets of experts and integrated them with major priorities currently outlined
in resilience research, prevention science, and child clinical science. There is a great deal of
congruence in what is emphasized.
Above all, the consensus is that we must minimize toxins and maximize nurturance in
children’s socializing contexts, targeting the most important, malleable processes in their
everyday environments. Because families constitute the most proximal and long-standing of
children’s environments, there must be concerted attention to ensuring the well-being of primary
caregivers. In addition, we need focused efforts to fostering the nurturance of adults in schools,
organizations, and communities. This “upstream” intervention on socializing environments rather
than on individual children’s problems is consistent with recommendations to focus on pathways
that are “broadly deterministic” (Luthar et al., 2015), that is, those that affect multiple risk and
protective mediators as well as diverse adjustment outcomes, with substantial effect sizes, and
relatively enduring rather than transient effects.
Paradigmatically, we must accelerate the move to a deployment-focused approach in
prevention science, such that programs are developed keeping in mind, at the outset,
pragmatic, real-world considerations. Our progress will be limited if we focus too narrowly on the
development and dissemination of evidence-based intervention programs that address
individual problems in laboratories, failing to consider what is needed to ensure effective
implementation in real-world settings of communities and organizations.
To implement the kinds of programs that are needed, we will need rigorous efforts to
understand what is required at the level of organizations and communities, in order to foster
their adoption of promising programs. We will also need concerted advocacy, convincing
society of the value of the evidence-based programs recommended and of the need to fund
these (because of cost effectiveness in the long run), with special attention to children and
families in poverty.
Funding issues are of much concern at this point in time. In the last decade or so, there
has been an enormous move toward including biological indicators across intervention trials --
examined as outcomes, mediators, or moderators – and this shift has rested, in large part, on
national funding trends (see Eisenberg, 2014; Luthar & Brown, 2007; Miller, 2010; Sameroff,
2010). The heavy prioritizing of biology in mental health obviously comes at the cost of other
research initiatives, as reflected in a letter from multiple scientific groups to the search
committee for a new Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, expressing concerns
regarding the disproportionate focus on biology (Developmental Psychologist, 2016; see also
Lewis-Fernández, 2016; Markowitz, 2016). At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, similarly,
the explosive growth in biological research is undoubtedly useful for developing pharmacologic
treatments, but there are concerns about adoption of an overly narrow biological approach,
minimizing environmental influences that are known well to contribute to addiction and are
themselves modifiable (Biglan & Levin, 2016). In addition to exhorting funding agencies to
adopt balanced approaches toward biological and environmental influences, we would urge our
colleagues in science also to be circumspect on this front, especially with regard to
recommendations that expensive biomarkers be included as moderators in intervention trials
(see Lerner, 2015). Such recommendations must come with documentation of how biological
indices might actually be incorporated in real-world interventions toward affecting, in meaningful
Maximizing Resilience
ways, the prodigious unmet mental health needs of today’s children and families. To bring about
beneficial changes through preventive interventions, developmental and clinical scientists, as
well as other concerned professionals, must find ways to intervene at the societal level to
change priorities regarding critical problems in our society, and to implement promising
interventions in ways that are scientifically sound, wide in reach, and practically feasible.
Maximizing Resilience
Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K., & Dunn, E. W. (2012). Giving leads to happiness in young children.
PLoS ONE, 7, 1-4.
Alden, L. E., & Trew, J. L. (2013). If it makes you happy: Engaging in kind acts increases
positive affect in socially anxious individuals. Emotion, 13, 64-75.
Antonucci, T., Arouch, K.J., and Birditt, K. (2013). The convoy model: Explaining social relations
from a multidisciplinary perspective. The Gerontologist, 54, 82-92.
Belsky, J., Fearon, P. R. M., & Bell, B. (2007). Parenting, attention and externalizing problems:
Testing mediation longitudinally, repeatedly and reciprocally. Journal of Child Psychology
and Psychiatry, 48, 1233–1242. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2007.01807.x
Belsky, J., Newman, D.A., Widaman, K.F., Rodkin, P., Pluess, M., Fraley, R.C., Berry, D., Helm,
J.L. and Roisman, G.I., (2015). Differential susceptibility to effects of maternal
sensitivity? A study of candidate plasticity genes. Development and psychopathology,
27(03), pp.725-746.
Biglan, A., & Embry, D. D. (2013). A framework for intentional cultural change. Journal of
Contextual Behavioral Science, 2(3), 95-104.
Biglan, A., & Levin, M. E. (2016). Contextual analysis and the success of translational research.
Translational behavioral medicine, 6(1), 160-166.
Bridgett, D. J., Burt, N. M., Edwards, E. S., & Deater- Deckard, K. (2015). Intergenerational
transmission of self-regulation: A multidisciplinary review and integrative conceptual
framework. Psychological Bulletin, 141(3), 602654. doi:10.1037/a0038662
Bridgett, D. J., Gartstein, M. A., Putnam, S. P., McKay, T., Iddins, E., Robertson, C., et al.
(2009). Maternal and contextual influences and the effect of temperament development
during infancy on parenting in toddlerhood. Infant Behavior and Development, 32, 103–
116. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2008. 10.007
Cabrera, N., Fitzgerald, H., Bradley, R., & Roggman, L. (2014). The ecology of father-child
relationships: An expanded model. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 6, 336-354.
DOI: 10.1111/jftr.12054
Caprara, G. V., Luengo Kanacri, B. P., Zuffianò, A., Gerbino, M., & Pastorelli, C. (2015). Why
and how to promote adolescents’ prosocial behaviors: Direct, mediated and moderated
effects of the CEPIDEA school-based program. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,
44(12), 2211-2229. 06 Mar 2015. DOI DOI 10.1007/s10964-015-0293-1.
Caspi, A. (1998). Personality development across the life course. In N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.) &
W. Damon (Series Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Social, emotional, and
personality development (Vol. 3, 5th ed., pp. 311388). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &
Sons Inc.
Chang, M. L. (2009). An appraisal perspective of teacher burnout: Examining the emotional
work of teachers. Educational psychology review, 21(3), 193-218.
Chorpita, B. F., & Weisz, J. R. (2009). MATCH-ADTC: Modular approach to therapy for children
with anxiety, depression, trauma, or conduct problems. Satellite Beach, FL:
Cicchetti, D. (1996). Child maltreatment: Implications for developmental theory and research.
Human Development, 39, 18-39.
Cicchetti, D., & Curtis, W. J. (2006). The developing brain and neural plasticity: Implications for
normality, psychopathology, and resilience. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.),
Developmental psychopathology: Developmental neuroscience (Vol. 2, 2nd ed., pp. 1-
64). New York: Wiley.
Cicchetti, D., & Gunnar, M. R. (2008). Integrating biological processes into the design and
evaluation of preventive interventions. Development and Psychopathology, 20(3), 737-
Maximizing Resilience
743. doi:10.1017/s0954579408000357
Crnic, K. A., Neece, C. L., Mclntyre, L. L., Blatcher, J., & Baker, B. L. (this issue). Intellectual
disability and developmental risk: Promoting intervention to improve child and family
well-being. Child Development, ???, ??????.
Cuevas, K., Deater-Deckard, K., Kim-Spoon, J., Watson, A. J., Morasch, K. C., & Bell, M. A.
(2014). What’s mom got to do with it? Contributions of maternal executive function and
caregiving to the development of executive function across early childhood.
Developmental Science, 17, 224–238.
Cumberland-Li, A., Eisenberg, N., & Reiser, M. (2004). Relations of young children’s
agreeableness and resiliency to effortful control and impulsivity. Social Development,
13,191-212. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2004.000263.x
Developmental Psychologist, (2016). Selecting the next director of the National Institute of
Mental Health (NIMH): Letter sent to the Search Committee. Division 7 Newsletter,
Summer 2016, retrieved from
Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D. S., Connell, A., Gardner, F. E. M., Weaver, C., & Wilson, M. (2008). The
Family Check-Up with high-risk indigent families: Preventing problem behavior by
increasing parents' positive behavior support in early childhood. Child Development, 79,
1395–1414. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01195.x
Domitrovich, C. E., Durlak, J., Staley, K., & Weissberg, R. P. (this issue). Social-emotional
competence: An essential factor for promoting positive adjustment and reducing risk in
school children. Child Development, ???, ???–???.
Dozier, M., Peloso, E., Lindhiem, O., Gordon, M. K., Manni, M., Sepulveda, S., ... & Levine, S.
(2006). Developing evidencebased interventions for foster children: An example of a
randomized clinical trial with infants and toddlers. Journal of Social Issues, 62(4), 767-
DuBois, D. L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J. E., Silverthorn, N., & Valentine, J. C. (2011). How effective
are mentoring programs for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence.
Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12(2), 57-91.
Eisenberg, N. (2015). Is our focus becoming overly narrow? Presidential Column, APS
Observer. Retrieved on September 1, 2016, from
Eisenberg, N., Eggum, N., Vaughan, J., & Edwards, A. (2010). Relations of self-
regulatory/control capacities to maladjustment, social competence, and emotionality. In
R. Hoyle (Ed.), Handbook of personality and self-regulation (pp. 21-46). New York:
Eisenberg, N., Hofer, C., Spinrad, T., Gershoff, E., Valiente, C., Losoya, S. L., Zhou, Q.,
Cumberland, A., Liew, J., Reiser, M., & Maxon, E. (2008). Understanding parent-
adolescent conflict discussions: Concurrent and across-time prediction from youths’
dispositions and parenting. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child
Development, 73 (Serial No. 290, No. 2), 1-160. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5834.2008.00470.x
Eisenberg, N., Hofer, C., Sulik, M., & Spinrad, T. L. (2014). Self-regulation, effortful control, and
their socioemotional correlates. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation
(2nd ed.; 157-172). New York: Guilford Press.
Eisenberg, N., Smith, C., L. Spinrad, T. L. (2016). Effortful control: Relations with emotion
regulation, adjustment, and socialization in childhood. In K. D. Vohs & R. F. Baumeister
(Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory and applications (3rd ed). Guilford
Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Eggum, N. D. (2010). Emotion-related self regulation and its
relation to children’s maladjustment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 495–525.
Maximizing Resilience
doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy. 121208.131208
Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Knafo-Noam, A. (2015). Prosocial development. In M. Lamb
(Vol. Ed.) and R. M. Lerner (Series Ed.), Handbook of child psychology and
developmental science (7th ed; Vol. 3; pp. 610-656). Socioemotional processes. New
York: Wiley.
Eisenberg, N., Taylor, Z. E., Widaman, K. F., & Spinrad, T. L. (2015). Externalizing symptoms,
effortful control, and intrusive parenting: A test of bi-directional longitudinal relations
during early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 27, 953-968. doi:
Fisher, P. A., Gunnar, M.R., Dozier, M., Bruce, J., & Pears, K.C. (2006). Effects of a therapeutic
intervention for foster children on behavior problems, caregiver attachment, and stress
regulatory neural systems. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 215-
Goodman, S. H., & Garber, J. (this issue). Evidence-based interventions for depressed mothers
and their young children. Child Development, ???, ??????.
Harold, G. T., Leve, L. D., & Sellers, R. (this issue). How can genetically informed research help
inform the next generation of interparental and parenting interventions? Child
Development, ???, ??????.
Kazdin, A. E., & Rabbitt, S. M. (2013). Novel models for delivering mental health services and
reducing the burdens of mental illness. Clinical Psychological Science,
Kendall-Taylor, N. (2011). “Anyone Can Do It …Wake up, Rise up and Get Some
Gumption”:Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Resilience
and Developmental Outcomes”. A Frameworks Research. Retrieved August 11, 2016
Lerner, R.M. (2015). Eliminating genetic reductionism from developmental science. Research
in human development, 12:3-4, 178-188, DOI: 10.1080/15427609.2015.1068058
Leslie, L.K., Mehus, C.J., Hawkins, J.D., Boat, T., McCabe, M.A., Barkin, S., Perrin, E.C.,
Metzler, C.W., Prado, G., Tait, V.F. and Brown, R., 2016. Primary Health Care: Potential
Home for Family-Focused Preventive Interventions. American Journal of Preventive
Lewis-Fernandez, R. (2016). In mental health research, NIH needs to focus less on tomorrow
and more on today. Washington Post, accessed on October 12 from
Luthar, S.S. (2015). Mothering mothers. Research in Human Development. 12, 295–303. doi:
Luthar, S. S., & Brown, P. J. (2007). Maximizing resilience through diverse levels of inquiry:
Prevailing paradigms, possibilities, and priorities for the future. Development and
Psychopathology, 19, 931-955. PMCID: PMC2190297
Luthar, S. S., & Ciciolla, L. (2015). Who mothers mommy? Factors that contribute to mothers’
well-being. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1812. doi: 10.1037/dev0000051,
Luthar, S.S., & Ciciolla, L. (2016). What it feels like to be a mother: Variations by children’s
developmental stages. Developmental Psychology, 52, 143-154. doi:
10.1037/dev0000062, PMC4695277
Luthar, S. S., Crossman, E. J., & Small, P. J. (2015). Resilience and adversity. In R.M. Lerner
and M. E. Lamb (Eds.). Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th
Edition, Vol. III, pp. 247-286). New York: Wiley.
Luthar, S. S., Curlee, A., Tye, S. J., Engelman, J., & Stonnington, C. M. (2016). Fostering
Maximizing Resilience
resilience among mothers under stress: “Authentic Connections Groups” for medical
professionals. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Luthar, S. S., Lyman, E. L., & Crossman, E. J. (2014). Resilience and Positive Psychology. In M.
Lewis and K. Rudolph (Eds.), Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology, (3rd Edition,
pp. 125-140). Kluwer Academic/Plenum.
Markowitz, J. C. (2016). There’s such a thing as too much neuroscience. The New York Times.
Accessed on October 18 from
Masten, A. S., & Narayan, A. J. (2012). Child development in the context of disaster, war, and
terrorism: Pathways of risk and resilience. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 227-257.
Mathematica, 2016 New Study Shows Communities Can Reduce the Effects of Adverse
Childhood Experiences.
Miller, G. A. (2010). Mistreating psychology in the decades of the brain. Perspectives on
Psychological Science, 5(6), 716-743. doi: 10.1177/1745691610388774.
Modecki, K., Zimmer-Gembeck, M., & Guerra, N. (this issue). Emotion regulation, coping, and
decision making: three linked skills for preventing externalizing problems in adolescence.
Child Development, ???, ??????.
Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., . . . Caspi, A.
(2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety.
PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of
America, 108(7), 2693-2698. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010076108
Morris, A. S., Robinson, L. R., Hays-Grudo, J., Claussen, A. H., Hartwig, S. A., & Treat, A. J.
(this issue). Targeting parenting in early childhood: a public health approach to improve
outcomes for children living in poverty. Child Development, ???, ??????.
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). Responses to depression and their effects on the duration of
depressive episodes. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 569. doi:10.1037/ 0021-
Olds, D. L., Kitzman, H., Knudtson, M. D., Anson, E., Smith, J. A., & Cole, R. (2014). Effect of
home visiting by nurses on maternal and child mortality: results of a two-decade follow-
up of a randomized, clinical trial. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(9), 800-806. doi:
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). Responses to depression and their effects on the duration of
depressive episodes. Journal of abnormal psychology, 100(4), 569.
Pruett, M. L., Pruett, K., Cowan, C. P., & Cowan, P. A. (this issue). Enhancing father involvement
in low-income families: A couples group approach to preventive intervention. Child
Development, ???, ??????.
Reynolds, A. J., Ou, S-R., Mondi, C. F., & Hayakawa, M. (this issue). Processes of early
childhood interventions to adult well-being. Child Development, ???, ??????.
Rhodes, J. E., & Rhodes, J. E. (2009). Stand by me: The risks and rewards of mentoring
today’s youth. Harvard University Press.
Rotheram-Borus MJ, Swendeman D, Chorpita BF. 2012. Disruptive innovations for designing
and diffusing evidence-based interventions. American Psychologist, 67, 463–76
Sabol, T. J., & Pianta, R. C. (2012). Recent trends in research on teacher–child relationships.
Attachment & Human Development, 14(3), 213-231.
Sameroff, A. J. (2010). A unified theory of development: A dialectic integration of nature and
nurture. Child Development, 81, 6-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01378.x
Settersten Jr, Richard A., and Megan McClelland. "Just One Wish for the Study of Human
Development." Research in Human Development 12, no. 3-4 (2015): 157-162.
Shonkoff, J. P., & Fisher, P. A. (2013). Rethinking evidence-based practice and two-generation
programs to create the future of early childhood policy. Development and
Psychopathology, 25(4pt2), 16351653. doi:10.1017/ S0954579413000813
Maximizing Resilience
Smith, J. D., St. George, S. M., & Prado, G. (this issue).Family-centered positive behavior
support interventions in early childhood to prevent obesity. Child
Development, ???, ??????.
Sunstein, C. R. (2015). On interesting policymakers. Perspectives on Psychological Science,
10, 764–767. DOI: 10.1177/1745691615614257
Swartz, H. A., Cyranowski, J. M., Cheng, Y., Zuckoff, A., Brent, D. A., Markowitz, J. C., ... &
Frank, E. (2016). Brief Psychotherapy for Maternal Depression: Impact on Mothers and
Children. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(6),
Taylor, Z. E., & Conger, R. D. (this issue). Promoting strengths and resilience in single-mother
families. Child Development, ???, ??????.
Teachman, B. A., Norton, M. I., & Spellman, B. A. (2015). Memos to the President From a
“Council of Psychological Science Advisers”. Perspectives on Psychological Science,
10(6), 697-700.
Toth, S. L., Gravener-Davis, J. A., Guild, D. J., & Cicchetti, D. (2013). Relational interventions for
child maltreatment: Past, present, and future perspectives. Development and
Psychopathology, 25, 1601-1617.
Valentino, K. (this issue). Relational interventions for maltreated children. Child
Development, ???, ??????.
Valiente, C., Lemery-Chalfant, K., & Reiser, M. (2007). Pathways to problem behaviors: Chaotic
homes, parent and child effortful control, and parenting. Social Development, 16, 249–
267. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2007.00383.x
Weisz, J. R., Krumholz, L. S., Santucci, L., Thomassin, K., & Ng, M. Y. (2015). Shrinking the gap
between research and practice: Tailoring and testing youth psychotherapies in clinical
care contexts. Annual review of Clinical Psychology, 11, 139-163.
Weisz, J. R., Ng, M. Y., & Bearman, S. K. (2014). Odd couple? Re-envisioning the relation
between science and practice in the dissemination-implementation era. Clinical
Psychological Science, 2(1), 58-74.
Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Millsap, R. E., Plummer, B. A., Greene, S. M., Anderson, E. R., ...
& Haine, R. A. (2002). Six-year follow-up of preventive interventions for children of
divorce: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 288(15), 1874-1881.
Yoshikawa, H., Whipps, M. D. M., & Rojas, N. (this issue). New directions in developmentally
informed intervention research for vulnerable populations. Child
Development, ???, ??????.
Maximizing Resilience
Table 1.
Summary of Authors’ Recommendations: Interventions by At–Risk Group, Processes to be Targeted Along With Methods and Measures, and Salient Challenges for the Future.
Population Process 1 How to target –
1Process 2 How to target- 2 Measures Process 3
Taylor and
Conger Single mothers
Perceived social
support: Faith in
network that
values, nurtures
especially peer-
optimism, self-
efficacy, and self-
behavioral -
coping, reframing;
Individual therapy
stress, optimism,
mothers and their
Tier 1:
Brief (8-10
support for
Tier 2: Longer
term therapy,
treatment for
sensitivity, child
abuse potential,
child post
traumatic stress
Goodman and
mothers of young
Symptoms of
Cognitive or
Home Visiting,,
enhanced to
address maternal
support for
parenting, marital
distress, child
Reynolds, Ou,
Mondi, and
Families in
poverty: Early
Family support
involvement in
avoidance of
externalizing and
School support
Morris, Robinson,
Hartwig, and
Families in
poverty: Early
childhood (most
with mothers)
Nurturance for
caregivers and
parenting, child
Parent mental
health, coping,
Pruett, Pruett
Cowan, and
Families in
poverty: Fathers
involvement and
parenting, couple
cycles; external
stresses, external
parent and child
Table 1
Population Process 1 How to target – 1 Process 2 How to target- 2 Measures Process 3
Staley, and
of K-12
Social and
Explicit instruction
and learning
environments that
foster positive
mindsets, self-
awareness, and
“resistance skills
Social and
Explicit instruction
and learning
environments that
social awareness,
and social
problem solving.
Child symptoms,
achievement /
prosocial behaviors
Maximizing Resilience
and Guerra
at risk for
regulation, coping,
decision making
Social cognitive
processing; warmth
and support from
significant adults
goals and
reinforce skill
Parents modelling
and foster
effective coping
behaviors and
Coping, life
skills in the
Smith, St.
George and
Children at
risk for
obesity: Low
Parents facilitation
of healthy lifestyle
Parent Positive
Behavior Support
of desired
General and
health behavior
specific positive
behavior support
Child weight, body
composition, diet,
physical activity
control (e g.,
Blacher and
Families of
children with
Parents’ behavior
Behavioral parent
training, with
adapted sections
relevant to children
with intellectual
Parent stress
based stress
Child behavior
problems, parent-
child interactions,
parents’ stress and
Leve and
Children at
risk for
predisposition, as
moderator of
response to
interventions for
Processes 2 and 3
Biological family
history (where DNA
genetics are not
Child symptoms,
Maximizing Resilience
... Improving caregiver well-being has been identified as one of the most important methods to promote healthy child development (Luthar & Eisenberg, 2017;National Research Council, 2019). Efforts to promote child development, however, often provide parents numerous dos and don'ts for interacting with their children rather than offering strategies to nurture parents' wellbeing. ...
... The longitudinal experimental design for Study 2 strengthens our ability to causally determine whether expressing gratitude increases in positive emotions, which longitudinally predicted subsequent outcomes. This study also represents an important advance in understanding how to improve parents' well-being, a largely underexplored, but important, topic with implications for child development (Luthar & Eisenberg, 2017;National Research Council, 2019). ...
Full-text available
Parents are inundated with suggestions to improve their relationships with their children and promote child development, but improving caregiver well-being is often overlooked despite being considered one of the most important methods to promote healthy child development. Drawing on the robust literature on the emotional and relationship benefits of gratitude, we present two studies demonstrating the advantages of gratitude for parents' well-being and family functioning. First, in a 7-day daily experience study conducted in 2018 (N = 270), daily gratitude predicted greater well-being and family functioning, controlling for daily happiness, coder-rated care difficulty, and sociodemographics. Second, in a short-term longitudinal experiment conducted in 2018 (N = 619), participants were randomly assigned to write a gratitude letter or to complete a control activity. In this study, expressing gratitude predicted greater well-being and family functioning 1 week later via increases in positive emotions. Notably, across both studies neither felt nor expressed gratitude referred to one's children; however, the results of our studies suggest that gratitude in general improves parent-child relationships and family well-being. This work provides insights regarding ways to improve parents' well-being without requiring greater effort, energy, or attention to one's children, and it suggests that promoting parents' gratitude in general may benefit the entire family. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
... The well-being of the main actors in the growth of children cannot be overlooked. Luthar & Eisenberg, 2017). As they help children to be resilient, they should also be helped. ...
Full-text available
Turkana County is ranked as the most marginalized county in Kenya in literacy levels, access to education, unemployment levels, erratic climatic conditions, infrastructure and poverty index, health facilities, food insecurity, access to water and electricity, insecurity, land productivity and historical injustices among others. Despite the challenging situation, some students in the locality continue to persist in education, surmounting challenges and moving from one level to another in education. This study therefore, sought to determine the personal and socio-contextual factors that predict academic resilience among secondary school students in Turkana County in Kenya. To achieve this, the research set out to examine the level of academic resilience of secondary school students in Turkana County and to investigate the relationship between; personal factors and academic resilience; school factors and academic resilience; parental involvement factors and academic resilience, and; to compare the predictive value of personal, school and parental involvement factors on academic resilience.
... For example, certain resilience profiles identified in prior research with older populations, such as "work/school impairment," would be not relevant for young children. Nonetheless, the diverse profiles identified in this study support the notion that resilience is a multifaceted construct and that the structure and development of resilience across different areas of functioning can vary (Luthar et al., 2015;Luthar & Eisenberg, 2017). ...
Full-text available
This study examined transitions in resilience profiles and the role of caregiver risk and protective factors in resilience transition probabilities over 18 months among children involved with the child welfare system, using latent profile analysis and latent transition analysis. The sample included 486 children (48% female, baseline Mage = 3.49). There were three resilience profiles at Time 1 (19.9% low emotional behavioral, 26.1% low cognitive, 54.0% multidomain) and two profiles at Time 2 (18.9% low emotional behavioral, 81.1% multidomain). Caregiver mental health problems were negatively associated with membership in the multidomain resilience group at Time 1. Higher levels of cognitive stimulation were associated with initial and continued membership in the multidomain resilience group. Implications for resilient child development are discussed.
Worldwide, 420 million children are affected by conflict and over half of all children experience violence every year. Thus, youth are unarguably affected by war and settings of persisting societal violence. Despite often being conceptualized as either powerless victims or violent perpetrators, recent advances in research and international policy recognize young people as key change agents in transforming adverse settings into positive environments. Framed by the Developmental Peacebuilding Model, this paper focuses on predictors, outcomes and intervention points within the family for youth peacebuilding. Recent advances of family-based interventions in diverse, non-WEIRD samples will be highlighted. Rooted in existing knowledge, we conclude with concrete suggestions on how to use secondary data to investigate youth peacebuilding across the globe.
This study explores how mothers in the US described challenges to their children’s (ages birth to eight) play experiences at home during social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus. Understanding their lived experiences is valuable because it will add insight into the effects of this unique time period on the critical role parent-child interactions play in children’s physical, social, and emotional well-being. Using a phenomenological design, interviews with 14 mothers revealed a common experience in which play efforts were altered at times due to challenges related to social distancing and COVID-19. Four themes described these challenges: Lack of Parent Resources and Support, Work and Child Care Balance, Children’s Struggles with Social Isolation, and Children’s Uncertainty Regarding COVID-19. Mothers believed it was their responsibility to keep their children engaged in play as part of their childcare duties. They struggled to balance work and childcare, did not always enjoy playing with their children, and desired alone time to recover during this challenging time. They sought to best meet their children’s needs but had to make allowances to their parenting practices and play attitudes. The authors discuss how more intensive parenting philosophies could be difficult to sustain when society does not operate as usual.
Educators play a central role in children’s social, emotional, and academic development. From early childhood through high school graduation, much of children’s time is spent in the classroom. Many children also attend out-of-school time programs providing structured after-school learning and play opportunities. When these environments are safe, positive, and supportive, they serve as critical protective factors contributing to children’s healthy growth and well-being (Masten, Ordinary magic: resilience in development, The Guilford Press, 2014). But when educators face personal and professional risk factors, it can affect their ability to create these nurturing environments for their students, jeopardizing successful outcomes for children as well as their own well-being. In this chapter, we will first summarize the sources of stress educators commonly experience in their daily work, including a discussion of the new and unprecedented impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the impact of these stressors. We will discuss the emergence of social and emotional learning (SEL) as a potential new source of stress for educators but also as a unique opportunity to enhance educators’ resilience and their effectiveness in promoting children’s social and emotional competence. Lastly, we will highlight promising approaches that address this important need.
Contemporary research and conceptual frameworks of resilience can be foundations for classroom interventions that contribute to students’ resilience. The classroom characteristics that make it possible for children to overcome adversity and experience success include rewarding and caring relationships between and among adults and children, practices that promote children’s autonomy and self-regulation, and factors that foster children’s optimism and hope. Deliberately embedding these protective factors into the fabric of everyday classroom practices increases the likelihood that children will learn and be successful in these classrooms even when struggling with significant social and economic disadvantages. Examples of intervention frameworks to strengthen classroom resilience are described: Resilient Classrooms, Restorative Peer Ecology, and happiness-promoting interventions. This chapter closes with a candid discussion of the next steps to develop and empirically evaluate practical strategies to create classroom environments that predispose students to success.
The factors and processes that enable child and youth resilience vary across situational and cultural contexts. Even so, many studies of resilience theorize positive adaptation in contextually neutral ways and/or perpetuate resilience accounts that mirror minority world realities. To discourage a continuation of that problematic tendency, this chapter advances an understanding of resilience enablers that are responsive not only to risks but also to social–ecological or contextual dynamics. Drawing mostly on studies of child and youth resilience in majority world contexts, this chapter interrogates resilience enablers’ fit with specific social ecologies, explores unconventional adaptive strategies, and probes the need for resilience enablers to accommodate changing contextual realities. This more nuanced construction of protective factors and processes informs a culturally responsible understanding of resilience and animates strategies towards decolonized theories of successful adaptation to significant stress.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
• We previously demonstrated significant and sustained benefit in multiple psychological measures (Figure 1), as well as reduction in cortisol levels, associated with a 12-week facilitated support group for physician and advanced practitioner mothers (Authentic Connection Groups, n=21) at Mayo Clinic Arizona, compared to a control group (n=19) [1]. • From the very first session, a constant refrain is that mothers develop authentic connections not just within the groups, but more importantly, with other mothers in their everyday lives, who are formally labeled as their “Go-to Committees.” (Figure 2) • We now present qualitative data gathered during the trial, with the dual aims of (a) illuminating underlying mechanisms (i.e., processes explaining why this intervention “worked”), and (b) inspiring both replication studies and wider dissemination of this intervention in other healthcare communities.
Full-text available
Developmental science is replete with studies on the impact of mothers on their children, but little is known about what might best help caregivers to function well themselves. In an initial effort to address this gap, we conducted an Internet-based study of over 2,000 mostly well-educated mothers, seeking to illuminate salient risk and protective processes associated with their personal well-being. When women’s feelings in the parenting role were considered along with dimensions of personal support as predictors, the latter set explained at least as much variance—and often much more—across dimensions of mothers’ personal well-being. Within the latter set of personal support predictors, findings showed that 4 had particularly robust links with mothers’ personal adjustment: their feeling unconditionally loved, feeling comforted when in distress, authenticity in relationships, and satisfaction with friendships. Partner satisfaction had some associations with personal adjustment outcomes, but being married in itself had negligible effects. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research, and for interventions aimed at fostering resilience among mothers facing high level of stress in their role as parents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)
Full-text available
BACKGROUND: We report on effects of an intervention to foster resilience among professional women at high risk for stress and burnout: health care providers (physicians, PhD clinicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners) who are mothers. METHODS: Between February and November 2015, 40 mothers on staff at the Mayo Clinic, Arizona were randomly assigned to either (1) 12 weekly one-hour sessions of a structured, relational supportive intervention, the Authentic Connections Groups (ACG; n=21) with protected time to attend sessions, or to (2) 12 weekly hours of protected time to be used as desired (Controls; n=19). Participants were assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and three months follow-up on multiple psychological measures plus plasma cortisol. RESULTS: Across the 12-weeks of the intervention groups, there were zero dropouts. At post-intervention, analyses of covariance showed significantly greater improvements (p< 0.05) for mothers in the Authentic Connections Groups than Control condition for depression and global symptoms. By three months follow-up, significant differences were seen for these two dimensions and almost all other central variables, including self-compassion, feeling loved, physical affection received, and parenting stress, with moderate effect sizes (ηp2 .08 - .19; median .16). Participants in Authentic Connections Groups (but not Control) condition also showed significant reductions in cortisol levels at both post-intervention and follow-up. CONCLUSION: Facilitated colleague support groups could be a viable, low-cost, preventive intervention to mitigate burnout and distress for mothers in high-stress professional settings such as hospitals, resulting in personal benefit, greater engagement at work and attenuated stress associated with parenting.
Full-text available
Social-emotional competence is a critical factor to target with universal preventive interventions that are conducted in schools because the construct (a) associates with social, behavioral, and academic outcomes that are important for healthy development; (b) predicts important life outcomes in adulthood; (c) can be improved with feasible and cost-effective interventions; and (d) plays a critical role in the behavior change process. This article reviews this research and what is known about effective intervention approaches. Based on that, an intervention model is proposed for how schools should enhance the social and emotional learning of students in order to promote resilience. Suggestions are also offered for how to support implementation of this intervention model at scale.
Full-text available
Research on executive control during the teenage years points to shortfalls in emotion regulation, coping, and decision making as three linked capabilities associated with youth's externalizing behavior problems. Evidence gleaned from a detailed review of the literature makes clear that improvement of all three capabilities is critical to help young people better navigate challenges and prevent or reduce externalizing and related problems. Moreover, interventions can successfully improve these three capabilities and have been found to produce behavioral improvements with real-world significance. Examples of how successful interventions remediate more than one of these capabilities are provided. Future directions in research and practice are also proposed to move the field toward the development of more comprehensive programs for adolescents to foster their integration.
Full-text available
Depression in mothers is a significant risk factor for the development of maladjustment in children. This article focuses on modifiable risk processes linking depression in mothers and adaptation in their young children (i.e., infancy through preschool age). First, the authors present evidence of the efficacy of interventions for reducing the primary source of risk: maternal depression. Second, they describe a central mechanism—parenting behaviors—underlying the relation between maternal depression and children's adjustment. Third, the authors recommend two different integrated interventions that successfully treat mothers’ depression and enhance parenting skills with infants and young children. Finally, the authors note the possible need for supplementary interventions to address severity and comorbidity of mothers’ depression, barriers to engaging in treatment, and the sustainability of program benefits.
Full-text available
To address the problem of fathers' absence from children's lives and the difficulty of paternal engagement, especially among lower income families, government agencies have given increasing attention to funding father involvement interventions. Few of these interventions have yielded promising results. Father involvement research that focuses on the couple/coparenting relationship offers a pathway to support fathers' involvement while strengthening family relationships. Relevant research is reviewed and an exemplar is provided in the Supporting Father Involvement intervention and its positive effects on parental and parent-child relationships and children's outcomes. The article concludes with policy implications of this choice of target populations and the need to develop new strategies to involve fathers in the lives of their children.
This special section of Child Development brings together experts in developmental science and intervention research to incorporate current evidence on resilience for vulnerable populations and give concrete suggestions for action and research. This commentary synthesizes the contributions of the articles, noting themes such as simultaneous attention to multiple risk, protective, and promotive processes; integrating new principles from clinical and therapeutic interventions; and adapting intervention approaches for new populations. It then describes additional directions for interventions to maximize resilience, including approaches that address social psychological processes, issues related to demographic and other forms of diversity, policy-related individual behaviors, and sequenced interventions across the life span. It also gives suggestions for integrating implementation science on expansion and scale with behavioral intervention science.
There is robust evidence that the interparental relationship and parenting behaviors each have a significant influence on children's risk for emotional (internalizing) and behavioral (externalizing) problems. Indeed, interventions targeting the interparental relationship and parenting processes show significant intervention-related reductions in child internalizing and externalizing problems. However, most evidence-based parenting- and couple-focused interventions result in small to medium effects on children's emotional and behavior problems. It is proposed that there is opportunity to improve upon these interventions through incorporation of knowledge from quantitative genetic research. Three core recommendations are provided for practitioners engaging in intervention work with children and families. These recommendations are contextualized relative to what quantitative genetic studies can tell us about the role of the interparental relationship and parenting behaviors on child outcomes.