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Re-Inventing Resilience… What It Means For The 2021 Child

This week I have FINALLY been out delivering face to face training this week,  twice in two days!
Stepping out from behind the screen after 15 months has felt like a massive change and, not unsurprisingly, I’m being asked to talk about ‘change-management’ – under the umbrella of ‘resilience’ – more than any other topic.

But it’s not just a case of repeating familiar material for me, because resilience is being redefined and reinvented..

Managing transition, perseverance and ‘bouncebackability’ still matter. 
And ‘academic resilience’; the ability the achieve in school despite adversity; still has its place, but it requires children want to do well.

And most still do, but many are not even comfortable coming to school at all yet, let alone engaging and being motivated to learn.

‘Change-readiness’ is no longer just being prepared for what to expect, but the ability to tolerate uncertainty, to expect the unexpected, and adapt to the moving parts of life.  

These are difficult enough skills to master as an adult, so how do we cultivate them in the children we live and work with?

Strengthening resilience is really not about interventions and programmes.
We plant and nurture resilience at its best, just through the countless daily exchanges and interactions we have with young people, and through the behaviours we model, for them and with them.

It doesn’t mean being OTT positive and optimistic about everything, but IMO, ‘The Resilient Child’ ; the ability to thrive, not just survive in the world as we now know it; needs to possess these 5 key beliefs and attitudes;

I can live with uncertainty
Unexpected change is a part of my life. I don’t need to have chosen change, I can even be unhappy with uncertainty… But it doesn’t mean I can’t cope with it and adapt to it.

I’m an active decision-maker
I’m a source of influence in my own life. I can make choices, and have agency and personal power in my world. I expect to be asked, and I expect to contribute.

I trust myself
I might not be able to trust the world, but I trust myself to overcome whatever it throws at me… To respond to problems as they arise and deal with whatever happens as it does.

I’m ready to try and fail… and try again 
There’s no such thing as ‘wrong’; it’s just stuff I haven’t learned or mastered yet. Knowing the right answers is less important than trying to find them out. And trying again (and again!) if I need to… 

I have a network of support 
‘Being resilient’ doesn’t mean being able to do everything independently, all by myself.
Finding – and trusting -other people to help me is a sign of my strength, not a weakness.

Resilience just can’t be on the periphery of young people’s lives anymore. More than ever, it’s part of the foundation on which ‘good learning’ is built.

Children will only learn at their best when they feel competent of growth and change. They’ll only meaningfully engage when they feel seen and heard, engaged with.
Nobody – child or adult – will flourish if we don’t feel accepted and supported.

It’s time to take resilience, and the other ‘soft skills’ out of the “When we’ve got more time” or “When we’ve got X, Y, Z done” and put it at the heart of young people’s learning. Everything else tends to fall into place a whole lot more readily when the foundations are built to last.