Building Resilience in Children
It is Children’s mental health week, the focus being Resilience.
How can we build resilience in the next generation?
Having an understanding helps and being able to portray this to our children is important.
The Oxford Dictionary defines being resilient as.
(Of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions: babies are generally far more resilient than new parents realize.
We all want to empower our children to become resilient; to be able to get up one more time than they fall. To continue even if they feel like the underdog and is there a point in continuing?
Are bringing up the next generation to give in when faced with a challenge or even worse ,to not even attempt the challenge?
As a coach I am very familiar with the rise of positive thinking, and the opinion that we as humans can achieve anything that we put our mind to. In theory this is correct , however you have to understand that resilience is key when working towards goals.
Often when communicating with children, especially the parents and carers we buoy the children into thinking that they just have to wish for something – abracadabra it will be theirs, especially in the consumer driven society we live.
We give our children what they want as we don’t want to make them the subject of humiliation / bullying from their peers. We want them to feel loved and we want to show them that anything is possible. Do our children grow up thinking that everything is easy and comes to them with little or no effort?
At my daughters school they actively use the principles of Resilience as a teaching aid and pupils are awarded certificates and stickers in assemblies for showing resilience. The children love it and as a parent of a child with additional needs it gives me reassurance that she is being encouraged to try her best regardless of the outcome.
How can we help our children become more resilient? To gain an understanding that keeping going and reassessment of the process and progress is an essential tool for childhood that will become invaluable throughout life.
Here are some tips to help with the process of encouraging resilience.
- Set goals and targets with your children when they are learning a new skill. Such as tying shoelaces, handwriting, doing up zips and buttons, revision for exams. Deciding between the family unit on a timescale to achieve the goal will give a focus point to aim for and therefore remove disappointment should they not be able to make that tie on the first attempt.
- Use positive language and encouragement. If they find something particularly difficult then remind them of previous successes and how it took time to achieve the previous accomplishment.
- Let them know your weaknesses. If you as a parent aren’t so good at maths but are a fantastic sportsman make them be aware that different people have different strengths and challenges but as long as they do their best that is all that matters. A cliché but true.
- Don’t let them just quit. If they find something difficult and challenging see if you can help them out but take a step back to see how they handle the situation.
- Talk about emotions when challenges arise and again refer to your challenges. The Feel Felt Found formula is a wonderful tool. Simply relate to the scenario on a personal level and your child will really feel your empathy and understanding.
“I know how you Feel about it as I Felt the same when I was learning to ride my bike but what I Found was if I kept going and looked in the direction I wanted to go I eventually managed to get there. And it was the best feeling ever. Shall we give it another go?”
Easy ways to explain Resilience.
If you are of a certain age you will be able to remember the catchy adverts
“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”
I use this in my Calm in the Class groups and will use the weeble as a visual aid for the kids. They can see that the weeble will wobble but it simply gets itself back up again – to its original starting point.
The children can relate to this and we will talk about situations when they have felt like giving in or not even starting a task, activity or challenge. Then we can also discuss that although the weeble makes the same action every time we maybe don’t have to as it is the getting back on track that is the main feature of resilience. Once upright you maybe don’t have to fall down again.
This visual aid helps and the sessions become very interactive as solutions are thought of and the children think of times when they have maybe given up or not started something but knowing that its ok to “fall down” and have another go they would maybe have approached the challenge with a different mind-set.
Sharing examples of famous people who have shown resilience is an excellent way of demonstrating resilience.
Walt Disney who was told he had no imagination.
Steve Jobs was fired by apple.
Ed Sheeran was busking on the streets before making it big.
There are many examples out there it is just a case of finding one that resonates.
A few tips on building resilience during childrens mental health week.
The most important thing to remember is to show encouragement, but not to take over, to show empathy, not disappointment and to show pride in all achievements regardless of how small.
To find out more about the services I offer to schools and children contact me.
To find out more about my incredibly resilient daughter here.