I was recently at a meeting where a question was posed, “How do we teach children resiliency especially in light of the current conditions at some local schools”. One response was that students should not be subjected to such conditions. True. And, children should not have to deal with an incarcerated father, multiple foster care homes, poverty, rotting schools, bullying, or a mom dying from cancer. Unfortunately there are so many things children simply cannot control. So, we must encourage them to be resilient because as much as we love them, we cannot shield them from every hurt, disappointment or sadness.
Psychology Today says about “resilience”… it is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.
Resiliency is not some innate superpower, but a skill that can be learned. Our mentors, whether they know it or not, intentionally or unintentionally provide social support that can help strengthen resiliency. It doesn’t take a lot outside of the ordinary to make an extraordinary impact on a youth. An outing to a ballgame or shopping is “Tip #4 – Take a Break” on the American Psychology Association list of strategies for helping develop coping skills. Doing service work together “Tip #2 – Help Others” helps to empower the youth. Creating a vision board together “Tip #8 – Keeping a Positive Outlook” helps a youth see a future beyond the current situation. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resilience.aspx
All youth, regardless of circumstance, can achieve success. As we wrap up National Mentor Month, I encourage everyone to become a mentor and help our children navigate through the challenges of what we call life. And for those who are mentors…thank you.