Photo: Children at Stella Mundi develop resilience by establishing meaningful relationships, observing, developing patience, appreciating the process of things and learning from their mistakes.
We are often faced with life challenges. Most of the time we can handle these challenges, but sometimes they may be stressful and difficult. We can be overwhelmed by different things at different times like relationship difficulties, sudden or serious changes, financial hardships, discrimination, feelings of isolation, hectic schedules and unsafe environments.
Resilience makes a big difference in the way we respond and overcome difficult and stressful situations. It is the ability to steer through life's challenges and find ways to bounce back and thrive. We are all born with it. It is not something we have or don't have. However it is a skill that continually needs to be worked on. People who respond to hardships with resilience research suggests are: healthier, happier in their relationships, more successful in school and work, and less likely to get depressed.
We need to start as early as possible. Resilience being taught from a young age will give children confidence, equip them to better handle everyday frustrations and bounce back from life's challenges.
How do we build resilience in children?
Children need both outside support and inner strength to grow their resilience muscle.
As a school, community and parents, we need to provide caring relationships and positive role models. Building a loving relationship gives safety and security to your children. It is also a crucial building block in developing resilience in your child. They do best when they are loved, safe, understood and accepted. That's why we insist our educators and staff develop meaningful and deep relationships with the children. They need to develop a close attachment with the children whilst educating them. Caring relationships provide accepting places where children learn to regulate self-control over their bodies, feelings, attention, thoughts and behaviours.
I'd like to share some of the activities we do at school to foster strong relationships:
We give attention and affection. Lots of smiles and hugs make your children feel secure, loved and accepted.
We play together with your children. It is a great way for educators to connect, get to know them better and have fun. It's also a great way for children to develop physical, cognitive and social skills using their imagination and creativity.
We comfort your children when they are hurt or frightened, sad or angry. Being comforted helps them feel as if they're not alone with their big feelings. They will feel closer to the educators and learn healthy ways to comfort themselves and others as they get older.
We listen with interest to your children's feelings, thoughts and ideas. This lets them know that what they say is important.
We show empathy. We learn to see things from the children's point of view. Now, this doesn't mean that we always have to agree with them. It just means that we are letting the children know that we understand how they feel. When children feel understood, it is easier for them to try to understand others. Empathy is the foundation for developing caring relationships with other people.
We help children to identify and express their feelings (glad, sad, mad, scared, etc.). We also let them know that other people, their friends and adults, also have these feelings.
We read books and tell stories to your children about people who show compassion, kindness and understanding for others.
You can also do the same things at home. In addition, try to reduce screen time. Experts recommend that children under 2 years should not watch any TV/phones/tablets. Children between 2-6 should watch less than 1 hour per day. Instead, find things to do that build your relationship, like reading together or doing a family activity.
Secondly, children need to be exposed to positive role models. Young children copy what others say and do. Parents and other adults can learn to be positive role models by handling difficult situations with resilience. When educators remain calm and flexible in dealing with class challenges, they are teaching their children positive ways to handle stress. To be positive role models, we:
Take care of our health. Educators show children that it is important to eat healthy food, get enough sleep and exercise regularly through our class routines and daily meals.
Show understanding, compassion and kindness. We ask children to consider others and imagine what is it like to walk in other people's shoes.
Be in charge of our emotions.It's ok to have all kinds of feelings. But it is only healthy if they are expressed in constructive ways.
Be patient. Keep on trying even when things are frustrating and difficult. We show patience when the children are trying.
Let go of being perfect. Remember mistakes are part of learning.
Stop and re-think. When things go wrong, try not to jump to conclusions. Ask yourself: "How else can I think about this?", "What parts can I control?", "What else can I do?" Take a moment before you respond.
Take responsibility of your own feelings and actions. Educators carefully consider their actions in front of children: "Oops, I made a mistake on this artwork, but I can make up for it by doing.." or "Look, you didn't quite finish it this time. But it's okay, you tried hard." or "I see that was difficult for you, but you tried. That's all that matters."
Stay positive. Instead of saying, "You did it wrong." Our educators are encouraged to say, "That's a good try, I can show you how it is done." or "Do you think there is another way of doing this?"
Reach out for support. Everyone needs help sometimes. We tell children it is okay not to be able to do certain things. They can ask their teachers and others for help.
Reach out to help others who are going through difficult times. We encourage children to show empathy by comforting other children who are going through difficult times.
Inner strengths that a child develops including self-control, thinking skills, confidence, positive outlook, responsibility and participation.