Frank Schofield, superintendent, Logan City School District
Halfway through the school year is a good time to discuss the progress children have made toward their personal goals, talk about the challenges they are working through, and identify potential support caregivers can provide at home. As we have those conversations with children, we are likely to become aware of difficulties they are facing that may not have been communicated to caregivers previously. A child’s ability to thrive, despite those challenges, arises from the skills of resilience.
Building resilience, which includes the ability to adapt well to adversity, threats, or other significant sources of stress, while not eliminating future stress, does help children manage those stresses in a healthy manner. Caregivers can help children develop resilience over time by using the following tips recommended by the American Psychological Association.
Make connections. Teach your child how to make friends, including the skill of empathy, or feeling another’s pain. Encourage your child to be a friend in order to make friends. Build a strong family network to support your child through his or her inevitable disappointments and hurts. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. Some find comfort in connecting with a higher power, whether through organized religion or privately, and you may wish to introduce your child to your own traditions of worship.
Help others. Children who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. Engage your child in age-appropriate volunteer work, or ask for assistance yourself with a task that he or she can master. Brainstorm with children ways they can help others.
Maintain a daily routine. Sticking to a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who like structure in their lives. Encourage your child to develop his or her own routines.
Teach your child self-care. Be a good example, and teach your child the importance of making time to eat properly, exercise, and rest. Ensure your child has time to have fun, and make sure they haven’t scheduled every moment of his or her life with no “down time” to relax. Caring for oneself and even having fun will help your child stay balanced and better deal with stressful times.
Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook. Even when your child is facing very painful events, help him or her look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Although your child may be too young to consider a long-term look on their own, help him or her see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be good. An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going, even in the hardest times. In school, we use history to show that life moves on after bad events.
These are skills we reinforce regularly in our schools as part of the Logan City School District’s mission to ensure all students leave our schools ready to create a positive future for themselves and their community. For more information on how you can help the children in your life develop resilience, visit apa.org/helpcenter/resilience.aspx.