By Justine Wilson, ES Principal, and Mariana Dantas, ES School Counselor
*Merriam-Webster defines resilience as "the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
There is so much that parents don’t know...what was eaten for lunch, who played with who, what book was read, what happened in math class, etc….This can cause some parents to be uncomfortable as their child grows up. As children grow to become autonomous people, the more children need to learn how to depend on themselves. The school is here to support them. Maureen Healy wrote in Psychology Today, “The process of childhood includes making mistakes. However, the resilient child has somehow learned to pick him or herself up and keep going.” Yes, students make mistakes and have problems at school. There are not more problems amongst our students then at any another school in Brazil, the United States or any other place where children interact. Honestly, I am glad there are problems because problems are learning opportunities depending on how we, the adults, act! Catharine Newman wrote in Parents Magazine that we must teach realist assessment of situations. Most problems are not mountains acting as barriers, but rather that “most problems are clumps of dirt in the road”.
We all have choices when children bring problems to us, the adults:
1. As adults, we can get upset and rush in to save the children and “take care of it” for them.
2. As adults, we can listen, provide ideas, coach the child in coming to a solution and celebrate together.
Each of the above choices has consequences. If we choose number 1 and get upset investing a lot of energy into the problem, the children see that the adult took the problem and made it disappear. Children then become reliant, using the adult as a crutch, and will repeat this behavior because they haven’t learned what to do for themselves.
If we choose number 2 and see the learning opportunity for the child, even if their feelings were hurt, the child becomes resilient building self confidence. We can ask what the child did to solve the problem, say “Wow, that was smart” or ask “Did that work? If not, what can you do differently next time you have a problem?” This empowers children to own their problems, even if something happened to them that was not fair. According to Newman, optimism is also an important factor in building resilience. Recognize the problem and share how others have overcome similar problems. They learn to have a voice, that their voice matter, and that the adults are optimistic that they can solve the problem.
Schools are full of caring, diligent, knowledgeable professionals who want the best for all children. That’s why we all work in education! All the teaching staff help children to solve problems daily. Trust the professionals to notify parents when needed. 1,000s of children have come through our doors...
Teachers teach values which our community has all agreed to. We teach them directly and indirectly. We have recently added the Learner Profile, thanks to the adoption of the PYP, which also gives us a common language. We want children to learn right from wrong, to act with the values and when they don’t to reflect and learn. We work on this daily in every interaction we observe with students. There are many “right” ways to do this as long as the children are owning their problem and learning. Children are learning about respectful caring behavior, different perspectives, being a communicator and reflecting.
Next time your child brings a complaint or concern home, choose one of the following questions:
“What did you do about it?”
“Who did you talk to?”
“How did you express yourself?”
*magic happens here* Then congratulate them for their effort and move on to another subject to talk about. This builds autonomy, resilience and problem solving skills leading children to have a healthy outlook for life with less stress and anxiety.
Maureen Healy. (2014) The Resilient Child. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2QXmMrX
Newman, Catherine. (2018) 7 Ways to Raise a Resilient Child. Parents Magazine. Retrieved from internet 26/9/2018. https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/ways-to-raise-a-resilient-child/
*A Parent’s Resource Guide to Social Emotional Learning. Explore a curated list of blogs, articles, and videos for parents about fostering skills like kindness, empathy, gratitude, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children. You can find it here at the link: https://www.edutopia.org/SEL-parents-resources.