Illalong News

  • 1st June, 2017

Create Moments of Magic

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:

  • Don’t step in too quickly.  Whilst no one wants to see their child upset, if we step in too quickly to sooth, we don’t allow our children to learn that it is normal to feel a range of emotions. They will not always be happy all of the time. Allowing children to understand this and then to know that bad experiences can and will pass, allows them to develop the positivity they will need later on in life when they will experience difficulties.
  • Let them play with minimal parental supervision.  Whilst it is important to ensure they are safe, there is a tendency for the modern parent to over-supervise play. This includes organising all play dates for children. If you do this for your child, you don’t allow them to build the capacity to do it for themselves. A few guiding tips is always helpful to get them started, but allow them to try to sort out their play schedules or free time for themselves. This will assist them in learning how to take initiative and get involved. It will also teach them how to cope with disappointment as not all initiations will be accepted. When your children are playing with others, as long as they are safe, leave them to it. The pressure of having eyes on children at all times has been shown to put unrealistic pressure on them. 
  • Let them have a say. Children should have a voice, along with age-dependent moments of autonomy when they get to have a sense of control over their life.  This needs to be a balanced approach, where it is understood that the adult has the ultimate responsibility and final decision-making capacity.  The child should not be driving the decision-making in a household, otherwise this may lead to an overindulged adult who then struggles later in life.
  • Create moments of magic.  Take the time to turn off the devices and do something spontaneous with your children, where you can all have some fun together.  This will strengthen the spirit of all involved and builds a sense of belonging, being valued and noticed – factors essential for building resilient, confident and capable people.

Marie Perry
Assistant Principal

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