Helping children to develop resilience

Another extract from my book

The development of resilience can be viewed as one of the most vital ingredients for emotional health and well-being. The ability to deal with situations and bounce back after adversity is of paramount importance for all children, but especially those who live with uncertainty and disruption outside school. For children whose lives consist of them being criticised and ridiculed, or who live with drama and chaos, a sense of resilience is necessary for them to cope with this experience. The capacity for anyone to develop and sustain this is supported by the impact of other people who are able to encourage and believe in them.

In order to develop resilience, children need to experience some frustration to enable them to strengthen their ability to problem solve and learn. School staff can support this experience by ensuring they resist the urge to rescue or over help children. While children may not always be

able to tolerate frustration, the opportunity to experience this while supported by a trusting adult is vital. The ability to practise having courage and facing fears can also contribute enormously to the development of resilience. A child who has experienced being brave and has had their experience validated by a caring adult is more able to strengthen these skills. Children who are resilient are able to develop strategies to support themselves when they experience difficult

situations and therefore have their own bank of resources to use when life becomes challenging. Their experience of using a strategy that has worked for themselves enables them to use this again when they need to.

Strategies to develop resilience:

● Do a strategies mind map with the class to identify what we can do when life is challenging; for example, school tests, falling out with friends, etc.

● Encourage the class to make their own courage creatures out of art materials. Keep these on display and integrate them into lessons and situations; for example, ‘Today may be difficult as we’ve got our tests; you can choose to have them on your desk if you would like to.’

● Acknowledge situations where a child has faced their own challenge and discuss it with them, exploring the skills they feel they used; for example, ‘You showed great strength when you walked away when Ryan was calling you names and found an adult to tell.’

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