Resilience is the ability to respond in a healthy and productive way in the face of adversity or stress. It’s part of the social emotional learning continuum. Researchers have discovered that adults who overcome adversity have at least one thing in common: someone in their childhood who believed in them and stood by them. Resilience researcher and psychologist Julius Segal referred to this “charismatic” adult as someone “from whom a child gathers strength.”
A critical element to school success is a student developing a close and nurturing relationship with at least one caring adult. Students need to feel that there is someone from their school whom they can turn to and who will advocate for them.
Dr. Robert Brooks, who studies resiliency, outlines six ways grown-ups can be charismatic adults for children.
- Identify and appreciate a child’s “island of confidence.” While charismatic adults don’t deny a child’s problems or difficulties, they acknowledge a child’s strengths—their islands of confidence. Always begin with the strengths.
- Accept children for who they are. Accept the child for who they are and not who you want them to be. One way to do this is to listen to children. Give them focused, undivided attention builds their sense of confidence. You are sending the message: You are important.
- Involve children in problem solving. Problems are meant to be solved. Give kids opportunities to solve them. It’s hard to be resilient when you don’t know how to proceed when confronted by a problem.
- Offer opportunities to contribute to the well-being of others. This is one of the CIS basics!
- Help children recognize mistakes as an opportunity for learning.
- Provide positive feedback and encouragement. Catch kids being good. When they do something right, let them know it.
Speaking of grit, if you haven’t seen this interesting and gritty Ted Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, you might want to check it out here. A professor of psychology, her research finds grit a key predictor of success.
Note: An earlier version of this post was first published in Ask Me About My 12,00 Kids back in 2014.