Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Building resilience ...or not

I had dinner with friends last night who commented that they are taking their children to Paris this summer as their 4 year old wants to see the Eiffel Tower. What lucky children they are and how fortunate that their parents can give them such an exciting experience!

As parents, it is our natural instinct to want to give our children all that we can and to protect them from harm, hurt and wrong.

But is there a point when this protection actually is potentially more damaging than the harm? Maybe. I see many students who have absolutely no capacity to deal with any level of emotional trauma because they have been protected from experiencing any form of unpleasantness, even on the most minor level.

We want our children to be emotionally resilient- that is a necessary capability to possess in order to function normally in the adult world- the ability to get up, shake yourself off and get on with it! It seems that some parents are very concerned with keeping their child's self esteem intact, but to me, it is at times, at the expense of allowing the child to build resilience in a supportive environment. Ironically, I think self esteem can be enhanced by resilience- the idea that it may not be nice/ pleasant but I'm alright and moving on, is a tremendously positive attitude to foster.

Edith Grotberg, in her book " Strengthening the Human Spirit" says this about resilience:

"Resilience is important because it is the human capacity to face, overcome and be strengthened by the adversities of life...With resilience, children can triumph over trauma; without it (adversity) triumphs."

It is okay to allow our children to experience unpleasantness at times, to not win, for it to be ok not to be in the top group- all sorts of daily experiences that mould us into emotionally functional people.

The photos below are some snaps that I took during a walk though the school this afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. Mrs Webster, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on building resilience. A report by the Mental Health Foundation (1999) suggests that in comparison with earlier generations, children today are less able to cope with stress and adversity partly because they have been sheltered from facing challenging situations. Over-protection may well reduce morbidity but a hidden cost may be for children in first world countries “whose lives and childhoods are being newly circumscribed by unprecedented levels of parental concern” (UNICEF 2001:21)
    Resilience is a key social skill that children need to learn in order to become fully functioning members of our society. According to the Harvard Business Review (2002):
    "...more than education, experience, or training, an individuals level of resilience will determine who succeeds & who fails."