Jogo Behaviour Support Blog

Positive Behaviour and Education Services Supporting Children, Young People and Families

 

What is resilience and why do we need it? Monday, 21 August 2017

 

What is resilience and why do we need it?

Resilience is according to Grothberg, E. H. (1997)

“a universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimise or overcoming the damaging effects of adversity.” 

And as stated by Newman, T. (2002)

“A resilient child can resist adversity, cope with uncertainty and recover more successfully from traumatic events or episodes.”

The reality is that as human beings we will at some point need to face adversity and resilience is having the skills to prevent, minimise or overcome it. Whilst as adults we want to obviously minimise the exposure to adversity, however we also need to help children with the skills to overcome adversity too.

In recent years, there has been an interesting debate developing between the political establishment about the future course of direction for education policy. Previously an all-party parliamentary group advocated a 'Character and Resilience Manifesto'. It argued that more importance should be given to the development of "character and resilience and schools must be "more than just exam factories". It stated schools should make it part of their "core business" to nurture pupils' self-belief, perseverance and ability to bounce back from set-backs.  It also wants Ofsted to build "character and resilience" measures into its inspection framework, and for teacher training and career development programmes to "explicitly focus" on the area. A view supported by the CBI, senior politicians, and the government's social mobility adviser.   

As a young child I remember listening to the song “Rose Garden” and not fully understanding the symbolic message of the words:

“I never promised you a Rose Garden.  Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime.”

We cannot as the song says promise them a Rose Garden, but we can support the aim and vision of wanting one and help them on the journey towards it.  However we have to also instil a sense of reality that there will be disappointments, a little rain to be managed along the way. Acquiring the skill of coping with and managing the rain becomes just as important as the destination itself.

Children who are resilient are able to recognise their own abilities and are willing to try new challenges. They are able to build and maintain positive peer relationships, able to generally regulate their behaviours, are able to hold their own, able to repair following disagreements.  They feel connected to their school and have a sense of belonging.

The resilient child will have the ability to not only form these relationships but maintain and sustain them during challenging times. When the rain comes they will provide themselves, others and their relationships with coping strategies.  Resilience breeds the confidence to take risks, learn new skills and strategies, cope with more rain and develop more resilience.

How can we help children and young people build their resilience?

Developing resilience in many ways is like teaching any new skill to our pupils/students.  It will begin with an assessment of need and making sure that when we teach it the provision in which that teaching takes places matches the need we have assessed.  There will be students and pupils who will need be able to learn and acquire the skills and strategies to help build their capacity to be resilient at wave 1, while others may need wave 2 and some may need a wave 3 approach.  We need to be prepared to resource all these approaches from quality first teaching to group work and 1:1 work intervention programmes.

Whatever wave is being accessed by the pupil/student there are certain principles or factors that will always be present.

Our ability to form, maintain and sustain our relationships will have a direct connection with our levels of resilience. We can help develop resilience by recognising it is as a skill and therefore it can be learned if we teach it.  If we begin with the premise that pupils/students are capable of bouncing back, coping, weathering the storm we construct a curriculum with activities and strategies of high expectations, teaching a variety of skills like responsibility, co-operation, empathy, its ok to fail, we experience many feelings and it’s how we use them, I’m ok, you’re ok, interaction, sharing, my needs, your needs, their needs, feeling safe, helping others, giving time and attention, needing time and attention the list is endless.

As educators, we can help develop resilience by continually encouraging a safe environment that supports consistent and long lasting relationships with both adults and peers. Every day we repeatedly believe in them and their ability, encourage them to keep going, to feel that they are important, worthy and have a voice.  Furthermore it is not only that they have a voice but that their voice counts, they are able to contribute and participate in their own education, to contribute in the education of others and the development of the school.   

Resilience gives them the self-confidence to try and to keep trying, to implement skills and strategies on the way to the rose garden, cope with the rain and provide shelter from the storm.    

References

·    Anderson, Lynn (1968) I never promised you a rose garden. 

·  Grotberg, E. H.  (1997)  in B. Bain, et. Al. (Eds) "The International Resilience Project: Findings from the Research and the Effectiveness of Interventions", Psychology and Education in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the 54th Annual Convention of the International Council of Psychologists. Edmonton: ICPress, 1997. 118-128.)


·  Newman T (2002) Promoting resilience: a review of effective strategies for child care services, Centre for Evidence Based Social Services, University of Exeter