Children and Resiliency
From "Raising Our Children to Be Resilient: A Guide to Helping Children Cope with Trauma in Today's World" by Linda Goldman (2004).
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Signs of a Resilient Child
* The ability to bounce back
* The capacity to have courage
* The motivation to move forward
* The power to stay centered
* The awareness of knowing themselves
* The gift of laughter
* The potential of showing promise
* The capacity to ask for help
* The tenacity to accomplish goals
* The willingness to share feelings
* The capability to connect with others
* The inspiration to give back
Activities to Promote Resiliency in Children
Talk to children about strength, leadership, courage, and stamina.
Define resilience as the ability to keep going during very hard times.
Then ask them to make their own definition and explain why.
Create a Dialogue
Young children can read a resource such as "The Little Engine That Could" or "Courage" and have children draw or write what that story means to them. Use a quote such as "Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear." Martin Luther King enables middle and high school students to respond as to what that means to them.
Share a role model
Young children through teens can choose a family member or famous celebrity that represents a special quality of resilience to them. They can share a picture with others and explain what that quality is. We can then help them identify that quality in themselves by asking them to: Tell me about a time when you displayed that quality in your life.
Ask girls and boys to think of a time that was hard for them in their life. Make a chart with Survive as one title and Thrive as the others. Have children list what things they did to survive or make it through and what things they did to grow and learn that brought new meaning to their life.
Present a resiliency inventory for preschool and elementary children. Have them identify a difficult time in their life where they used strength and courage to make it through. Explain that is resiliency. Help them identify these attributes and relate them to present and future uses.
1. Tell me about a time in your life you felt you where resilient.
2. How did people respond? What did they say?
3. How did that make you feel?
4. How does it feel now?
5. Is there anything you wish others had done?
6. Can you use what you learned from this experience now?
Community resources and guest speakers
Invite guest speakers to share ways that they used the qualities associated with resilience and overcome challenges throughout their lives. Help children to identify those qualities. Examples can range from the school principal to a TV anchor, or home team sports celebrity.
"My Hero" Contest
Teachers can have a "my hero" contest in the school. Children become the person they emulate, dressing like them, using their mannerisms to present a dialogue representative of their hero to other students. The class votes on the winner.
Children can list all of the attributes they understand as resilient. The students choose a classmate they feel exemplifies this quality. That classmate is given the award for that attribute. Every child receives an award for some positive attribute, even if it is for the attribute of "patience" for the last child.
Children throughout the planet are learning universal lessons in resiliency from their survivorship of public tragedy. From SARS to terrorism, war, and violence, children manage not only to survive but also to thrive. Mentors and role models in daily life can inspire them to get through difficult times and achieve goals. When the chaos and confusion around them is transformed into planned action, children can then become a part of a global community of citizens - working towards the betterment of themselves and others - remembering that all of us need to take responsibility for the complex world we live in. (Raising Our Children to Be Resilient, Goldman, 2004)
Contact Linda by email: firstname.lastname@example.org