Posted on 02/28/2019 at 08:19 AM by Blog Experts

A trusting relationship with an adult—a teacher or guidance counselor, for example—can be a protective buffer against the negative effects of stress. According to a 2015 Harvard report, having at least one adult in a child’s life who provides a stable, caring, and supportive relationship is one of the strongest ways to build resilience and help stack the scale against adversity.” (taken from an article in Exchange Every Day, Feb. 14, 2019))

So what happens each and every day for a child in which an adult (besides a parent) provides a supportive relationship with that child? From what the research and best practices tells us, this adult can be anyone, a teacher, a secretary, a bus driver, or anyone else who shows the child he or she is important.

How does this message get sent to a child? Think of all the times in which someone can provide a friendly smile, a wave, a thumbs up, or any other gesture that says “so glad to get to see you today” or “you made my day when I saw you.” It all seems rather simple to hear, but the impact is greater as it gives the child a sense that their value is strong. Every child needs to have these opportunities, but those children struggling through “rough experiences” really need to know someone out there is “looking for them” and “looking out for them.”

How do we know which child needs this extra connection? We do not, so maybe the answer is that we respond and react to ALL children in a manner that tells them they are valued, are appreciated and are an important part of the class community. We not only are giving the right messages to each child, but we are also giving an additional message to others. What is that message? That message is about treating others with respect, about showing others they are important, and when other adults and children observe those occurring for a child, maybe more of the same will happen.

Recently, I heard a statement, “watch what people do and say when no one is watching,” that is the real response to people. In responding to children in a positive manner through a positive relationship that child can really move forward from those experiences from their ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) may not impact them as much as if they did not have that person who gave them support. (ACEs is from research done in relation to emotional health based on early experiences that were traumatic for the child.)

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