Along with the development of a sense of self, the development of resilience is of key importance to young people. Resilience, or the ability to cope with adversity, is a necessary attribute for a healthy and successful life. Resilience is gained through protective factors and processes, some of which include: the characteristics of the individual (being sociable, having one or more talents, the ability to make good decisions); the family environment (interested, stable and supportive); and the wider social context (connectedness to others, support, high expectations, boundaries, goal setting, mastery, high warmth and low criticism).
Young people who demonstrate resilience are more likely to develop into resilient adults, with a positive outlook and stronger sense of purpose in life. Connectedness or a sense of belonging to the family, peer group and/or wider community is a key factor in developing resilience in young people.
It is easy to assume that with all of the innovations of modern life, that young people now have it much easier than their parents did before them. However, these advances are sometimes a double-sided coin. For example, the latest in technology allows us to be connected 24/7 yet also reduces our ‘down time’. Our greater level of financial affluence allows us to have nicer things, however, being able to have these things more easily does not assist our children in learning the benefits of delayed gratification, which is a key attribute of an emotionally intelligent person.
Despite the advances in modern life with greater access to information, current research suggests that we are not producing more resilient young people, with the numbers of young people succumbing to more emotional, social and mental disorders on the increase. Resilience is a necessary protective factor in young people being socially well adjusted, thus lowering their chances of negative outcomes such as depression, emotional instability, mental illness, obesity, and social competence.
In short, there is a rise in the number of young people who are struggling. So how can we best help them? How can we best develop resilience or the ability to bounce back, dust oneself off when things go wrong, manage life successfully and adapt to change, and stressful events in a healthy and constructive way?
We can help our children strengthen their ability to meet life’s challenges and pressures with confidence and perseverance through some small strategies, which garner big results later on in life: