If a child is showing signs of distress, we can support them by being a caring, non-judgmental person to trust; they may feel comfortable to open up about sensitive issues such as family conflict, parental struggles, friendship issues, bullying, self-worth and educational fears and needs. Gently prompt them to recognise positive perspectives; remind them of their power to choose their perceptions and emotions; help them to breathe and clear their mind. Cruel words may bruise but resilience and perspective are a vital salve to heal and grow. Even when children aren’t facing crises, they can learn from challenges faced by other people facing adversity. A whole world of individuals of diverse cultures, races and religions offer hope, wisdom and relatable goals forged through resilience to life’s slings and arrows.
Personally, discussing my disability with children, and informing the teacher of upcoming surgery and health struggles, has been mutually rewarding. Kids learn that using a wheelchair or doing activities differently builds resilience, empathy, compassion and unique perspective. Kids thrive when they’re included in conversations about vulnerability, struggle and resilience and can learn that no matter the adversity, we all have gifts and skills to offer the world. We enrich the lives of others by how we show up; our attitude and resilience. We know kids possess an innocent quality taking people on face-value, without learnt prejudice; they focus on the connection among diversity.
Involve parents in these discussions. While we want to protect children from the complexities of adult decisions and shield them from pain, we can give our kids an uplifting, powerful gift by showing how others endure challenges with resilience; growing emotionally and thriving. History, film, TV and sports highlight that resilience is necessary for kids to succeed. Success stories begin to like you and me; kids with dreams and aspirations, whose success bloomed from the seeds of a normal life – going to school, playing with friends and enjoying their families – and flourished through resilience and determination. We all need resilience skills to guide us through the darkness back towards the light.
Recognising how blessed we are to live without the restrictions of chronic health challenges, financial hardship, family conflict and fractured friendships makes us appreciate our blessings; on the flip side, learning from more traumatic perspectives promotes empathy, compassion and respect for others. Children can learn that a disappointing grade won’t determine future success. It certainly isn’t a measure of self-worth. It’s an opportunity to reflect on effort and accordingly adjust learning and study habits. Failure is not fatal; resilience breeds success.
And no challenge is insurmountable.