The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

From the Head of Junior School

Building Resilience

As parents and teachers, the instinct to help is natural. With the pressure of time we often feel or desire to see good results, we can all too easily give in to the temptation to swoop in and help even if it is only to take the short-term pain away or to ensure we get out the door on time.

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from adversity. Perhaps as the adults in the lives of children, we should step back and consider allowing the small mistakes, setbacks and adversity for our children.  We should consider helping by not helping.

Luke McKenna from Unleashing Positive Potential believes that the more we do, the less children learn for themselves. The easier we make life for them, the less they are able to cope with challenges when they arise. The faster their solutions come, the less they tend to take time searching for answers. The more resources we give them, the less resourceful they become.

The adversity we would want our children to face should be appropriate to their age. Children do better when they are not exposed to high levels of risk but if they struggle and meet a challenge, they will learn. However, we don't want to let them struggle on with no path forward.

Some young people may give up when faced with a challenge. That is often when we as parents and teachers step in. We need to provided children with the tools to overcome a setback. These skills will greatly help with their well-being.

The American Psychological Association (2014) suggests '10 Ways to Build Resilience', which are:

  1. To maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others.
  2. To avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems.
  3. To accept circumstances that cannot be changed.
  4. To develop realistic goals and move towards them.
  5. To take decisive actions in adverse situations.
  6. To look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss.
  7. To develop self-confidence.
  8. To keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context.
  9. To maintain a hopeful outlook, expecting good things and visualising what is wished.
  10. To take care of one's mind and body, exercising regularly, paying attention to one's own needs and feelings.

Most of us are wired to help. This can be for personal convenience or because we don't like to see our children struggle. Our children will learn far more from facing adversity and finding a way forward than they will by us solving their problems for them. Step back, watch and help your child by not helping. The long-term benefits will be immense and you will be helping in creating a resilient person in the long run.