Resilience to poverty in children’s social-emotional and academic development
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Living in poverty places children at an increased risk of negative behavioral, cognitive, and health outcomes. Yet, some children are able to overcome the obstacles associated with poverty to display positive outcomes and are considered resilient. The current study used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Birth Cohort to investigate how different benchmarks of resilience influence children’s social, behavioral, and academic outcomes after the transition to kindergarten and how modelling protective factors in three different ways (i.e. an individual factor model, a cumulative index, and a latent profile analysis) at age 2 related to preschool resilience. “High-threshold resilience” was classified as one standard deviation above the mean of children not in poverty (based on social skills, mathematics, or literacy), whereas “low-threshold resilience” was operationalized as one half of a standard deviation above the mean of children in poverty. Results showed that few differences emerged between the different thresholds of resilience, however social skills resilience at preschool was related to higher kindergarten social skills, mathematics resilience was related to lower behavior problems and higher mathematics and literacy in kindergarten, and literacy resilience was related to higher mathematics and literacy. Vocabulary, self-regulation, and parent responsiveness were consistent predictors of later resilience in multiple domains and a higher cumulative index of protective factors was related to a higher likelihood of displaying preschool resilience. Four latent profiles of protective factors emerged (i.e. low protection and religious, low protection, moderate protection and unreligious, and high protection). “Moderate protection and unreligious” and “high protection” profile membership was linked to a higher likelihood of preschool resilience. Although further research is needed to clarify how to operationalize resilience to promote long-term positive development, it seems certain developmental domains (i.e. mathematics) are more influential for better overall development and modeling protective factors in multiple ways can provide a more nuanced understanding of how to promote resilience.