Building courageous resilience in kids - Education Matters Magazine
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Building courageous resilience in kids

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Finding opportunities in the turmoil takes real courage, writes Darren Stevenson, Extend Managing Director.

Nelson A. Rockefeller said, “Wherever you look upon this earth, the opportunities take shape within the problems”. Opportunities aren’t always obvious. Sometimes it looks scary or tough. So how do we summon the courage to march into unchartered waters, and show our kids how to do the same?

For most of us it’s not too difficult to embrace the obvious opportunities as they arise, such as that job promotion or marriage proposal. But what about those events that are thrust upon us, rather than designed or chosen? Finding opportunities in the turmoil takes real courage. It’s called resilience, and it’s a skill that both adults and children can benefit from practicing more.

It might be a life changing turmoil such as a family breakdown, or something more minor, such as a change or end to a friendship, a change of school rules, or moderate alterations to daily life. Either way, if the changes worrying you are not what you think you want, your first response might be resistance. You won’t even think to look for opportunities. And if you can’t find the opportunities in adversity, your kids will never see how it’s done.

When encouraged or forced by others to accept unwanted change, such as a change in friendship groups for example, it can feel very uncomfortable, even scary. The current reality, the situation you have been used to, is deconstructing before your eyes. At this point it can be difficult to see that any new beginning might be better than the reality you have known. But some changes are unavoidable. Often, the sooner you embrace the deconstruction, and take charge of it, the sooner you can begin to create a new reality that works better for you. Rather than leaving it up to others, you need to have the courage to construct the new environment that you want.

Firstly, you need to recognise that your fear of the unknown is normal. Resistance is usually borne from fear; of the unknown, of failure, of change. Once you understand and accept that fear is part of the process, this can help overcome the discomfort that comes with an unknown future. Understanding why you are afraid and exactly what you are afraid of, will help you begin to imagine the potential future you desire.

From here, you have the opportunity to start to actually shape your unknown future. It’s a clean slate. And the more you move towards your desired future, the less you have to fear. You can start to look for the opportunities to create the future you want.

It also helps to understand that sometimes plans won’t come to fruition. Sometimes you will succeed in the opportunities you seek. Sometimes you won’t. And that’s ok. There will always be something to be gained or learned from your best attempt. You just have to be open to seeing it.

When we understand this as adults it becomes easier to help kids deal with their inevitable setbacks in life and develop resilience.

Extend is a leading provider of high quality Outside School Hours Care services within primary schools throughout Australia. Visit extend.com.au to read more useful articles for school leaders.