Resilience is… A complex and multifaceted construct, referring to a person’s capacity to handle environmental difficulties, demands and high pressure without experiencing negative effects. (Kinman and Grant 2011)
When we consider childhood we can often see it as a carefree time, however youth alone does not offer a shield against emotional hurts and traumas that many children and young people face.
Children and young people can be asked to deal with problems ranging from adapting to a new classroom to bullying by classmates or even abuse at home. When you add to this the uncertainties that are part of growing up, and children can be anything but carefree.
The ability to thrive despite these challenges arises from the skills of resilience. The good news is that resilience skills can be learned. Building resilience – the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress can help our children manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. However, being resilient does not mean that children won’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common when we have suffered major trauma or personal loss, or even when we hear that someone else’s loss or trauma.
Recognising that ‘resilience isn’t a simple, one part entity. We can use these skills as adults to help children and young people to recognise their abilities and inner resources
Competence. – Competence can be the ability to know-how to handle situations effectively. Competence is acquired through actual experiences. Children and young people need to be recognised when they’re doing something right and to be given opportunities to develop specific skills.
Confidence – Confidence comes from building real skills and feeling competent, adults can teach and nurture children and young people’s confidence. When children are supported to build their own competence they can gain the confidence to try new adventures and trust their abilities to make sound choices. Confidence can be easily undermined, but also bolstered by tasks that push children and young people without making the goad feel unachievable.
Connection – Close ties to family, friends, school and community give children and young people a sense of security and values which helps them to know they are not alone if they struggle and that they can develop creative solutions to problems.
Character– A Fundamental sense of right and wrong that helps children make wise choices and contribute to the world. Children with character enjoy a strong sense of self-worth and confidence, this helps be more comfortable sticking to their own values and demonstrating a caring attitude towards others.
Contribution – When children realise that the world is a better place because they are in it, they will take actions and make choices that improve the world. They will also develop a sense of purpose to carry them through future challenges. Once children and young people understand how good it can feel to give to others, it becomes easier to ask for the same support when it’s needed. Being willing to ask for help is a big part of being resilient.
Coping – children who learn to cope effectively with stress are better prepared to overcome life’s challenges.
Control – In order to truly be resilient a child needs to believe that she has control over her the outcomes of their decisions and actions. They are more likely to know that they have the ability to do what it takes to bounce back. Feeling secure helps create control, which is why children tests limits.