FYI: I have updated this blog post, in light the current pandemic. We are all in need of a little resilience at this time. Take care of each other, be kind and stay safe ~ we will get through this. (April 2020)
Life is full of challenges, they are an inevitable part of life.
Our world is currently facing challenges of an unprecedented nature. This global health crisis has necessitated a complete overhaul of the way we live and work.
The way we deal with what life throws at us depends upon our resilience - our ability to cope with, bounce back, and move forward with optimism, from the stresses, challenges, adversity and traumas that come our way.
We’re not born with resilience, it is a life skill that can be taught.
As parents and educators it is our responsibility to promote resilience, and to help children build and practise this skill. This will give them reserves on which to draw when navigating their way through life's inevitable challenges.If you are looking for a child-friendly way to kickstart a discussion around dealing with life's challenges, you might find our read, sing & learn song, ‘Bounce Back!’ helpful (sample video below. You can also download the 'Bounce Back!' song MP3 package, with our compliments free, for a limited time).
This curriculum-aligned song helps students to understand the meaning of resilience, it’s importance, and how to build and practice it.
There are everyday things we can do to help children learn strategies to not only cope with adverse circumstances but to also survive, thrive, and emerge from them stronger than before. We can do this by:
- Building trust
- Loving them
- Helping them to feel safe and supported
- Allowing them to take healthy risks
- Modelling strong, supportive relationships
- Giving them responsibility and helping them to build strong, supportive friendships
- Encouraging them to talk about their feelings, and validating them
- Teaching them strategies for coping with and managing stress (exercise, eating healthily, having a positive, optimistic outlook on life, seeing mistakes, not as failures, but as opportunities to learn/grow...)
- Teaching them the importance of mindfulness and providing strategies for achieving this (many schools now include meditation as part of their curriculum)
- Modelling perseverance
- Helping them to develop and build on their strengths
- Helping them to set realistic goals
- Highlighting the importance of empathy and gratitude (our song narrative, ‘Wake Up!’ encourages students to embrace these practices)
- Tracking their social interactions, academic progress, emotional responses…
Experts agree that children's building and practising resilience is absolutely imperative for their mental health throughout life.
There are many teachable moments around resilience, throughout the school day. One of my personal favourites is when students are faced with challenges, want to give up, or are not achieving the results they expect, I'm very fond of reminding them of one, Thomas A. Edison, who once famously stated:
The point is made when they realize that without his resilience, we could still, quite possibly be living in the dark!'I have not failed. I've just found 10 000 ways that won't work.'
It is important to remind children that no matter what they are facing, as our song says, they need never feel alone; there will always be somebody willing to help, guide and/or just listen to them.
They need to understand that there is absolutley no shame in needing or asking for help; we all need help at times, and, at other times we can be that help to others.
Our ability to reach out that helping hand is in direct proportion to our ability to empathise.
A personal example of this is my developing a heart for migrant families and the children of those families, as a direct result of my own childhood experiences.
I know the grief and trauma of leaving behind everyone and everything one knows, to migrate to another country: the challenges of moving to new schools, new houses, making new friends, wanting to fit in, finding my place in a strange, new land, etc. because I've lived through (and grown through) these things.
Many moons ago, as a young teacher, I taught a Grade 1 class of 32 students, in a 97% migrant school, where only 4 of the students were English-speaking.
I knew the challenges I and my own English-speaking family had faced as immigrants, so I had nothing but empathy and love for these beautiful children and their parents, who had the added challenge of adapting to a whole new life and learning a new language.
The fact that I had the privilege of being their teacher and witnessing their progress was and still is one of the greatest joys and highlights of my teaching career.
Life throws up its fair share of difficulties for everyone. Some of these can be so traumatic that they can seem, at the time, insurmountable.
Examples of these from my own life, are the deaths of my beloved father, suddenly, at the young age of 64 (with a 12,000-mile plane trip the following day, for his funeral), the devastating passing of my precious, one-month-old daughter, and, later, the death of my beautiful Mum.
I am forever grateful for the very kind and caring support that my family and I received during those very sad, dark times.
I share these personal experiences with you, purely to illustrate the fact that it is possible to bounce back from adversity, that life does, indeed, go on, and that, moving forward, we can bring more humanity to our work and to others because of them.
This is being borne out today, as we rally together to do whatever it takes to get through this and to help combat this global crisis.
As we help children to develop an optimistic view of life, regardless of its inevitable challenges, we help them to build up reserves of resilience. These will better equip them to not only weather dark times but to emerge stronger, and more empathetic to the struggles of others.
Even though we do not forget disappointing, sad, painful or traumatic chapters in our lives, and we may not exactly bounce back straight away, with time, it is possible to slowly rebound, (the sun does eventually come out and shine again after the rain).
At the end of the day, it all depends on the way we look at things. This is beautifully illustrated by a Dale Carnegie quote I use when discussing optimism, growth mindset, and resilience, with students:
'Two men looked out from prison bars, One saw mud, the other one saw stars.'
Yours in singing to learn,To finish, I'll leave you with the wise and timeless words of Frederick Douglass (1817-1895):‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’Until next time!
P.S. Why not pop on over to our store, where you can browse our current titles, plus pick up a few lyric sheet freebies!
FYI: Our Curriculum KaraokeTM read sing & learn along song videos are available on ClickView, to subscribing schools.
'In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.' ~ Brendan Hitchens, Teacher, Music In Action: A Magazine for Educators
'A Lesson In Every Lyric'®