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Ten Ways to Foster Resiliency in Children

When children are influenced by caring adults with high expectations for their success, they are more likely to withstand negative pressures and become responsible adults. Here is how you can help.
by Leah Davies, M.Ed.
Regular contributor to the Gazette
April 1, 2008

Resilient children are those who adapt well, despite experiencing adversity in their lives. Families, schools, and communities have a profound influence upon children's ability to be persistent, overcome obstacles, and develop hope for their future. When children are influenced by caring adults with high expectations for their success, they are more likely to withstand negative pressures and become responsible adults.

What Can School Professionals Do To Enhance Resiliency In Children?

Respect and Demonstrate Kindness Toward All Students Children should be greeted by name as often as possible, especially at the beginning of each school day. Staff members need to be encouraged to display interest in students through thoughtful words and a pleasant demeanor. Promote a Sense of Belonging and Ownership in the School Children can participate in their school by helping in the classrooms, doing errands for their teacher, working as crossing guards, being peer mediators, picking up trash, tutoring younger or special needs children, or contributing in other areas. After-school involvement in arts and crafts, drama, sports teams, clubs and activities can also increase school bonding. Recognize and Believe in Each Child's Worth Challenge students to do their best and express confidence in their ability to do many things well. Make expectations clear and encourage perseverance and critical thinking. When children express original thoughts or unique points of view, acknowledge their ideas. Accentuate Cooperation Rather Than Competition Structure environments so that children feel safe, secure, and ready to learn. Acknowledge individual improvement, rather than emphasize who is smartest, fastest, or most talented. Give recognition freely and compliment individual and team effort. Teach Social Interaction Skills Empathy, communication, and responsiveness need to be modeled and stressed. Be aware of and prevent teasing, gossiping, excluding, or other bullying behaviors. Have the students role play friendship and assertiveness skills; be careful to choose children who will model the behaviors you want to reinforce. Teach Problem-Solving Skills To foster self-awareness and self-control have the children practice using the following steps from the Kelly Bear C.A.R.E.S. Program:

  1. Ask, "What is the problem?"
  2. Ask, "What can I do?"
  3. Make a list of ideas.
  4. Decide which one to try.
  5. Try it.
  6. Ask, "Did it work?"
  7. If not, ask, "What will I do now?"

Foster Leadership Skills and Good Will Provide opportunities for children to discuss their ideas and make decisions regarding classroom activities. Establish a student council or other organization that acknowledges children's interests and concerns and promotes character development. Increase kindness throughout the school by having students and staff write down observed caring behaviors. Acknowledge the identified students. Help Children Discover Their Strengths and Talents Provide time for children to imagine themselves doing something outstanding and worthwhile. After they set goals for themselves, discuss ways to reach their goals, and brainstorm choices they may need to make. Model Tenacity, Emotional Maturity, and Healthy Attitudes Be organized, consistent and use appropriate coping skills. Be genuine and avoid embarrassing or using sarcasm with a student. Involve Parents To Foster a Bonding, Nurturing Parent-Child Relationship Help parents see that they are their child's most important teachers, and that as role models they need to spend quality time teaching, training and exhibiting those habits and values they want their child to have. (For tips on how to encourage such a relationship, see Increasing Parent Involvement in Schools and Ten Ways to Involve Fathers in Their Children's Education under Teacher & Counselor Ideas. You can also find seven articles offering parenting tips at Parents Tips.)

Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website [www.kellybear.com]. 3/03



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About Leah Davies...

Leah Davies received her Master's Degree from the Department of Counseling and Counseling Psychology, Auburn University. She has been dedicated to the well-being of children for 44 years as a certified teacher, counselor, prevention specialist, parent, and grandparent. Her professional experience includes teaching, counseling, consulting, instructing at Auburn University, and directing educational and prevention services at a mental health agency.

Besides the Kelly Bear materials, Leah has written articles that have appeared in The American School Counseling Association Counselor, The School Counselor, Elementary School Guidance and Counseling Journal, Early Childhood News, and National Head Start Association Journal. She has presented workshops at the following national professional meetings: American School Counselor Association; Association for Childhood Education International; National Association for the Education of Young Children; National Child Care Association; National Head Start Association; National School-Age Child Care Alliance Conference.

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