Promoting Resilience in Children and Youth: Preventive Interventions and Their Interface with Neuroscience

Prevention Research Center, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.38). 01/2007; 1094(1):139-50. DOI: 10.1196/annals.1376.013
Source: PubMed


Preventive interventions focus on reducing risk and promoting protective factors in the child as well as their cultural ecologies (family, classroom, school, peer groups, neighborhood, etc). By improving competencies in both the child and their contexts many of these interventions promote resilience. Although there are now a substantial number of preventive interventions that reduce problem behaviors and build competencies across childhood and adolescence, there has been little integration with recent findings in neuropsychology and neuroscience. This article focuses on the integration of prevention research and neuroscience in the context of interventions that promote resilience by improving the executive functions (EF); inhibitory control, planning, and problem solving skills, emotional regulation, and attentional capacities of children and youth. Illustrations are drawn from recent randomized controlled trials of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum. The discussion focuses on the next steps in transdisciplinary research in prevention and social neuroscience.

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    • "Poverty often increases children's exposure to multiple stressors, including family instability, crowded living conditions, and community violence. Hence, it may be especially important for these children to learn to understand and manage their feelings and to develop interpersonal relationships that provide emotional support (Denham & Burton, 2003;Greenberg, 2006). Because children living in poverty are more likely to attend lower quality schools with classmates who are also struggling, social– emotional functioning may be even more important to school success than it is for most children (Georges, Brooks-Gunn, & Malone, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study assessed the sustained effects of Head Start REDI (Research-based, Developmentally Informed), a randomized controlled preschool preventive intervention, on children's developmental trajectories of social-emotional functioning into elementary school. Method: Twenty-five Head Start centers with 44 classrooms were randomly assigned to deliver Head Start REDI or Head Start as usual. Head Start REDI featured an integrated language-emergent literacy and social-emotional skills curriculum and enhanced support for positive teaching practices. The 356 4-year-old children (54% girls; 25% African American; 17% Latino; 70% living in poverty) in those centers and classrooms were followed for 5 years (from preschool through third grade; 91% retention rate). Each year, teachers rated multiple domains of social-emotional functioning. Person-oriented latent class growth models were used to identify the different developmental trajectories of social-emotional functioning that children followed. Results: Tests of proportions revealed that children who had been in the Head Start REDI intervention were statistically significantly more likely than children in the control condition to follow the most optimal developmental trajectories of social competence, aggressive-oppositional behavior, learning engagement, attention problems, student-teacher closeness, and peer rejection (odds ratio = 1.60-1.93). Conclusions: These findings suggest that enriching Head Start with evidence-based curriculum components and teaching practices can have long-lasting benefits for children's social-emotional functioning. These findings elucidate how high-quality preschool experiences promote core competencies that are critical to the school success of children living in poverty. (PsycINFO Database Record
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    • "During adolescence, brain systems related to self-regulation appear to develop more slowly than those related to reward Tests of Indirect Effects 4 sensitivity (Casey, Jones, & Hare, 2008; Steinberg, 2008). Efforts to improve the self-regulatory functioning of youth, for example through the development of emotion regulation skills, may help prevent and reduce problem behaviors (Greenberg, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescent problem behaviors are costly for individuals and society. Promoting the self-regulatory functioning of youth may help prevent the development of such behaviors. Parent-training and family intervention programs have been shown to improve child and adolescent self-regulation. This study helps fill gaps in knowledge by testing for indirect effects of the Common Sense Parenting® (CSP) program on reduced substance use, conduct problems, and school suspensions through previously identified short-term improvements in parents' reports of their children's emotion regulation skills. Over two cohorts, 321 low income families of 8th graders were enrolled and randomly assigned to either the standard CSP program, an adapted CSP Plus program, or a minimal-contact control condition. Pretest, posttest, 1-year follow-up, and 2-year follow-up survey assessments were completed by parents and students with 94% retention. Intent-to-treat multivariate path analyses were conducted. Neither intervention had statistically significant total effects on the three targeted adolescent outcomes. CSP, but not CSP Plus, had statistically significant indirect effects on reduced substance use and school suspensions at the 1-year follow-up as well as conduct problems and school suspensions at the 2-year follow-up through increased child emotion regulation skills at posttest. Findings provide some support for emotion regulation as one pathway through which the intervention was associated, indirectly, with reduced substance use, conduct problems, and school suspensions among at-risk students over the high school transition.
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    • "These models, as supported by empirical research, identify a neurological basis for the links between children's emotional experience within stressful versus supportive environments and their social and academic performance in those contexts (Greenberg, Kusché, & Riggs, 2004;Riggs, Greenberg, Kusché, & Pentz, 2006). For example, models that combine affective and academic processes have been used in the development of multiple universal prevention curricula for promoting children's social– emotional development in preschools and elementary schools, such as the broadly implemented Incredible Years and the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) (Greenberg, 2006;Riggs et al., 2006;Webster-Stratton, Reid, & Hammond, 2004). These affective–cognitive models suggest that young children's regulation of their own emotions (as well as their responses to others' emotions) may alternately support or disrupt attention, working memory, and other prefrontal cortical processes central to learning in the classroom (Ursache, Blair, & Raver, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: A variety of universal school-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs have been designed in the past decades to help children improve social-emotional and academic skills. Evidence on the effectiveness of SEL programs has been mixed in the literature. Using data from a longitudinal follow-up study of children (n = 414) originally enrolled in a clustered randomized controlled trial (RCT) when they were in Head Start, we examined whether universal SEL services in third grade were associated with the development of children from disadvantaged families. We took advantage of pairwise matching in the RCT design to compare children who had similar family background and preschool experiences but received different doses of SEL services in third grade. The results showed that the frequent (i.e., weekly to daily) exposure to SEL opportunities was associated with favorable social-emotional and academic development in third grade, including increased social skills, student-teacher relationship, and academic skills, as well as reduced impulsiveness.
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