by Leionah Ieremia, Family Engagement Specialist VISTA, Casa Grande Alliance
In an article by Gail Belsky, published on understood.org, she encourages us to focus our attention on building resilience in our youth.
Kids can face significant setbacks or go through difficult times, and we hope they’re resilient and can quickly “bounce back.” We worry about their grades, behavior and mental health. Sometimes, we also wonder if their challenges will have a long-term impact.
The good news is that resilience can be taught — at home and in school.
What is resilience?
Resilience is a trait that lets kids come away from setbacks with something positive. It’s about coping with challenges. Signs of resilience include seeing kids setting new goals for themselves or asking for help with a problem.
How can we help build resilience?
- Acknowledge their feelings: Dealing with difficulty or disappointment isn’t fun. Telling kids it’s not so bad or that they shouldn’t feel upset doesn’t make them stronger or help them cope. Instead, help kids recognize and talk about their feelings — even negative ones. Self-awareness is an important part of resilience.
- Talk honestly about strengths: It can be hard to look past challenges when you’ve done poorly at something or are struggling. Help kids see and understand their strengths (without overdoing it). Point out how those strengths have helped in the past. Have this conversation regularly, not just during a setback.
- Offer support, but don’t jump in: Kids who are resilient come back and try again. They look for solutions. Encourage that behavior by offering help — but not jumping in to fix things.
- Talk about lessons learned: Kids who learn and think differently often need to practice finding lessons in situations. Talk through what was difficult and how they tried to handle it. Help them see what they can use from that challenge to make the next one better.
- Encourage them to ask for help: Kids need to know that struggling or failing isn’t a sign of weakness — and asking for help is a strength. Ask what they need to get through a situation or to do better at something. Talk about who might be able to help, if it’s not you.
- Build confidence that things can improve: Believing things can improve with work — and that you’re not stuck where you are — plays a big role in resilience. Download activities to practice this skill.