Resilience is the ability to bounce back from challenges and adversities. It is a crucial skill for school-aged children to develop. There are a multitude of stressors and pressures that can impact a child’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, we are responsible for providing children with the tools and support they need to navigate these challenges as they strive to build resilience.
Karleigh Knox, LMSW, Clinician at St. Clair County Community Mental Health.
Resilience is not innate but a skill that can be cultivated over time. It involves adapting and coping effectively with stressors, challenges, and traumatic experiences.
“Resilient children are better equipped to handle adversity, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and maintain a positive sense of self,” comments Karleigh Knox, LMSW, Clinician at St. Clair County Community Mental Health
Knox provides several factors that can help build resilience in children, which include:
- Supportive relationships: Positive relationships with parents, caregivers, teachers, and peers play a crucial role in fostering resilience. Children who feel supported and loved are likelier to develop a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in their abilities.
- Healthy coping strategies: Teaching children healthy coping mechanisms, such as problem-solving, emotional regulation, and mindfulness, empowers them to manage stress and difficult emotions constructively.
- Effective communication: Encouraging open and honest communication helps children express their thoughts and emotions, reducing feelings of isolation and promoting a sense of belonging.
- Sense of purpose: Helping children identify their strengths, passions, and interests can give them a sense of purpose and direction, enhancing their ability to face challenges with determination.
- Structured routine: A consistent and structured routine helps children develop a sense of stability and predictability, enabling them to cope better with unexpected challenges.
Seven resilience-building strategies:
- Promoting emotional awareness: Encourage children to recognize and label their emotions. Create a safe space where they can freely express their feelings without judgment. SCCCMH suggests activities like journaling, art, or storytelling to facilitate emotional expression.
- Teaching problem-solving skills: Guide children through problem-solving exercises to help them approach challenges proactively. SCCCMH suggests engaging them in brainstorming solutions, evaluating potential outcomes, and making informed decisions.
- Building social skills: Facilitate opportunities for children to interact with peers and develop social skills. SCCCMH understands that group activities, team projects, and cooperative games foster collaboration, empathy, and effective communication.
- Encourage mindfulness and relaxation: SCCCMH suggests introducing mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises and guided meditation, to help children manage stress and anxiety. These techniques enhance their ability to stay calm and focused in challenging situations.
- Fostering a growth mindset: Teach children that disappointments and setbacks are part of learning. Encourage them to view challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement, promoting resilience when faced with adversity.
- Setting realistic goals: Help children set achievable goals and celebrate their successes. This instills a sense of accomplishment and reinforces their belief in their abilities to overcome obstacles put in their path.
- Modeling resilience: Children learn by example. Demonstrate resilience in your own life by openly discussing your challenges and setbacks and how you overcome them. This sets a positive precedent and encourages children to adopt similar strategies.
Creating supportive environments is also paramount to building resilience in children. Everyone has a role in making these settings a reality for our children. Cultivating nurturing and supportive environments where children feel loved, valued, and respected will help build resilience. Establishing routines at home will provide a sense of stability and predictability. In school environments, implementing anti-bullying programs, peer support groups, and mental health education can create an atmosphere that promotes resilience and builds skills to address challenges effectively. As a community, having robust extracurricular activities, clubs, and volunteer opportunities fosters a sense of belonging and connection for youth within the community.
Heidi Fogarty, Assistant Division Director at St. Clair County Community Mental Health.
“Building resilience in school-aged children is a complex but important undertaking for parents, educators, caregivers, and the community as a whole,” says Heidi Fogarty, Assistant Division Director at SCCCMH. “It requires the collective effort of all to foster these positive relationships, teach healthy coping skills, and create supportive environments. Working together, we can equip children with the tools to navigate challenges, build resilience, and thrive emotionally and mentally. Together, we can set the stage for our children's brighter and more resilient future.”
SCCCMH has developed an online toolkit for educators and parents with various resources and strategies to support mental health for children. From self-care techniques to fact sheets and online resources to innovative apps, the toolkit provides an easily accessible place for information. To access the toolkit, visit: scccmh.org/wp-content/uploads/Welcome-to-the-Back-to-School-Digital-Tool-Kit-for-Educators.pdf
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health and want to seek mental health services, please call St. Clair County Community Mental Health
at 888-225-4447. The Mobile Crisis Unit is available to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, including parents experiencing a mental health crisis with a child. Contact the Mobile Crisis Unit 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 810-966-2575.
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