by Linda Simpson, Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/linda-simpson/building-resilience-childhood_b_11448618.html
Parents, grandparents, caregivers take heed. As you are
stowing the markers, pens and paper in your child's backpack for the
start of a new school year be sure to throw in a hefty supply of
resilience. It is the most important school supply any child needs in
Forty years in education and many years as a
guidance facilitator has led me to believe resilience is the key factor
that contributes to an emotionally whole child. A child possessed of
solid resilience attributes controls bullies at the source - within themselves. A child possessed of a strong set of resiliency skills is less likely to be bullied.
readily identify the vulnerable in any school group. A bully requires
an audience and emotionally weak children to intimidate. A child that
can simply walk away and by standers who stand up to those bullies,
reduce the incidence of bullying. Research has proven that. Children
possessed of resilient character attributes are capable of such
How can you as a parent ensure your child has
a healthy dose of resilience as they walk out the door for their first
day of school? What can you as a parent, grandparent or caregiver do?
You need to know the 'knowable' in your child's life. How do they
perceive themselves? Insecurity is a bull's eye for bullies. Insecurity
cannot be totally erased as any adult with tell you. But how we think
our children perceive their 'personal positives' can be deceiving.
ask, never assume is a motto I believe. Ask your child how they see
themselves within the family, with their friends and in the outside
world. Gently dig a bit and push beyond the "everything is OK" answer.
your child. We, as parents can so often assume our children are aware
of how much we admire them and sometimes we find out they really don't
know or they need that reassurance of saying those things out loud. Have
you, as an adult, ever tired of hearing "I love you"?
other side of the coin is that children also need to realize they can't
please everyone. Not everyone in the world is going to like them. Life
is like that. They are not going to be successful at everything they
undertake. Learning to graciously accept defeat is a skill. However,
tenacity has life-long applications. Don't give up too soon if the
going gets tough. Learning to find the right balance is a valuable
As much as possible, children both within the classroom and
at home need structure. Structure builds assurance within each child.
Think of a chaotic classroom you might have been in at some time.
Probably the time the supply teacher arrived unprepared for the day.
How did it make you feel? It was exciting initially and then it probably
got scary. That is a little microcosm of how a child feels without
structure. Having too much freedom is both exciting and scary.
is a difference between that lack of structure and giving a child
responsibility that might involve certain freedoms. That involves trust
which is a confidence builder and a resilience builder. But the
responsibility has to be accepted on both sides of the family spectrum.
The child feels capable and the parent feels confident.
Developing a strong resilient character is a process. There is no quick way to raise a resilient child. I
spent many years involved in teaching life skills lessons in school. It
proved to me over and over again we can never assume our children know
how to have healthy, power- balanced friendships or are capable of
resolving disputes effectively. My teaching experience proved they do
not take these important lessons in by osmosis. Children need to learn
and practice these skills at home and at school. Proficiency is acquired
There can never be enough talking to your child. With
the emphasis being on 'talking to' and not 'talking at'. Sometimes the
conversation connects and other times it doesn't. They are kids not
widgets. Don't give up trying. You will know each time the connection
has been made.
Learning to see beyond their own world is one way
that children build a sense of empathy, a key ingredient to resilience.
Even young children can find some volunteer activity, a way to give back
to their community. Push for your schools to adopt resiliency programming. There are programs out there.
child needs to develop their own personal, healthy sense of power and
control. We need to focus on the resiliency of each child. That comes
with a shared responsibility and collaboration between home and school.
These are the most important lessons a child will ever learn.