Counsellor’s Corner: Teaching Resilience
Welcome to Counsellor’s Corner!
At ISA, student wellbeing sits at the heart of everything we do and what we stand for – even in our mission statement ‘a safe and caring learning environment’, we don’t just mean physical safety, but increasingly, in this time, emotional security too.
While adulthood is filled with serious responsibilities, childhood isn’t exactly stress-free.
Resilience means recognising what we cannot change or control and focusing instead on the positive impact we can bring with the areas in which we can control and change. This approach results in goals being achieved and allows children to have a more positive outlook on life.
In our latest blog, Valerie shares some tips for teaching resilience, which may help your children to avoid catastrophic thinking…
1. Take time to think about the problem
When we try to provide certainty and comfort in every situation, we are getting in the way of children being able to develop their own problem-solving and mastery. Responding too quickly to worries can sometimes fuel anxiety. Find a balance between a safe environment and fostering independence. Children will also be more likely to share their worries if they know you are taking your time to find solutions together.
2. Teach them to problem-solve
Let’s say your child wants to go to a sleep-away camp, but they’re nervous about being away from home. Help them to normalise their worries and help them figure out how to navigate being homesick. So, you might ask your child how they can practice getting used to being away from home. In other words, engage with your child in figuring out how they can handle challenges. Give them the opportunity, over and over, “to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
3. Teach your child empathy
When someone is bothering them, help them think about why that person is behaving the way that they are (don’t jump in to agree that their friend or teacher is terrible, just listen). Think ahead to difficult situations and help your child make a plan. Put them in control of some scripts they can use to face a circumstance that they find uncomfortable.
4. Avoid “why” questions
Why questions aren’t helpful in promoting problem-solving. If your child left their bike in the rain, and you ask “why”, what will they say “I was careless. I’m an 8-year-old.” Ask “how” questions instead. “You left your bike out in the rain, and your chain rusted. How will you fix that?” For instance, they might go online to see how to fix the chain.
5. Don’t provide all the answers
Rather than providing your kids with every answer to their problems with friends or school, start using the phrase, “What do you think might help?” Brainstorm some solutions with them. When they are able to talk through some ideas, they will feel more confident in dealing with conflict or worries.
6. Validate and avoid catastrophic reactions
When they are worried, validate by saying, “Yes, I used to worry about that at your age too, or yes, that is a real concern.” Sometimes just knowing that their worries are important and heard, helps them balance practical solutions. Avoid talking in catastrophic terms.
7. Validate and avoid catastrophic reactions
Emotional management is key in resilience. Teach your kids that all emotions are ok. It’s ok to feel angry, frustrated, or sad. Then, model your own self-regulation in how to handle difficult emotions or situations. They will find comfort in knowing that we are always learning, no matter our age.
Valerie DeGraw, Guidance Counsellor