Developing Resilience in Children

As children get older, they are faced with many more complex decisions and situations. For many children (especially gifted children), learning comes very easily to them when they first start school. They recite their alphabet and count their numbers at a very young age, much to the amazement and joy of family and friends. Learning is fun and easy, and challenges are quite rare.

However, as children get older they are given greater challenges and find themselves in unfamiliar learning environments. These situations are designed to enrich the children’s learning. However, for some children, they begin to question how “smart” they actually are when they are working at their highest level amongst their peers. Some children may even begin to recoil from challenges to stay within their comfort zone.

Combating this recoiling is incredibly important. If it is not addressed a child’s self image and view of education can be in sharp contrast to the actual situation. One of my previous principals, Rowena Lee, at Sydney Grammar School (an all boys’ school in Australia) said our role as educators was to “Grow the Boy.” We were encouraged to “grow” the students in all areas of their lives.

One way we did this was to focus on resilience. We used the “Bounce Back” program developed by Toni Noble & Helen McGrath. This resilience training gives children tools and strategies to deal with situations that feel overwhelming and stressful. This program is incredibly effective and if used consistently, and across grades, will help your students deal with life’s ups and downs in a more balanced way. I have found that even simply using the Bounce Back poster (offered below) is a great way to begin talking about resilience if you do not have access to the Bounce Back program.

Bounce Back Poster
Implementing Bounce Back