School Days: Don't Forget Your Resilience



Now that the back-to-school flush has settled into a daily routine, it should be obvious that students need more than just pens and pencils for a successful school year — they also need social and emotional tools to help them thrive.

Resilience is a skill, one that needs to be honed and developed like any other. But social and emotional learning has yet to be firmly established into many school curriculums. When a challenge, crisis or adversity strikes, children and families are left to their own devices and expected to “deal.”  But thankfully, that doesn’t have to be the case. As parents, we can work to build our children’s and our family’s resilience each and every day. Here are two easy activities:

Talk About Mistakes Activity: We all make mistakes and can learn from them. This brief activity teaches children how not to become frustrated or overwhelmed by mistakes but to learn from them. Children learn to be persistent, cope and gain a sense of pride when they learn to overcome mistakes. Problem-solving will flourish as children gain more skills to work through conflicts.

Follow Your Leader: Giving your child the opportunity to be the leader helps promote initiative and independence. Some children may love being in charge, while others may want to watch you lead at first. Either way, this activity will help your child learn important aspects of leadership and to follow directions, plus much more!

You’ll be surprised by what these same activities can teach you as well. When my children were young, I remember reading the saying “Parents are only ever as happy as their least happy child.” This adage has stuck with me throughout the last 13 years, since the birth of my first child. Being a parent takes an emotional toll, no matter the circumstances. When our children are in pain, we feel pain, too. Whether that pain is physical, such as my son’s skull fracture that scared our family for days, or emotional, such as the time my daughter’s feelings were hurt when she was not invited to a birthday party, my heart breaks. As parents and caregivers, we strive to be the best we can be for our children. To do so, we need to build our own resilience and coping skills to help us persevere and “bounce back” when we — and our children — experience difficulties in life.  

So remember to pack all their tools—including resilience — in their backpacks each day, and remember to continue to develop these skills at home each and every day.   

Susan Damico is a graduate of Bucknell University and received her Master’s degree in social service administration from University of Chicago. Susan joined the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative after completing her graduate studies in 1996. In her current role, Susan is responsible for managing and coordinating all aspects of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, including customer relations, marketing, funding and new resource development.    

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