12 ways to build resilient students
- Boost their self-esteem.
A child’s attitude about herself is something we can build by noticing and complimenting not just natural abilities, but learned behaviors like determination, effort, and problem-solving.
- Don’t shield kids from making mistakes.
How can teens learn to cope with everyday frustrations and challenges if they never experience any?
- Lend perspective.
As an educator, you know that failing a test (for example) is a tiny blip in a teen’s life, not a disaster. Help the student overcome disappointment by making a plan for future success.
- Teach self-control strategies.
You can do this before they experience something negative. Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child has a great resource for educators to help teens deal with difficulties and become more resilient.
Being cool-headed doesn’t mean we ignore our emotions; suppressing feelings can lead to a much bigger blowup (or give up) later. Instead, be a safe person for kids to talk to about their frustrations. When kids feel heard, not judged, you can teach them to turn it around.
One or two quality relationships in a kid’s life are all that’s required to create a feeling of connection to the world at large; you can be that model for a child or create a peer-mentoring situation where you pair kids together. This builds social skills and encourages kids to ask for help.
- Take a positive approach.
Remind kids of their strengths and show them how to put the focus there, not on the negative. What we think about, expands!
- Offer choices.
When kids have some choice over how they’re going to do an assignment or what subject matter to pursue, they often push through obstacles because they’re invested in the results. Kids can’t learn to make good choices if they have no choices.
- Broaden horizons.
Don’t assume kids are getting exposed to positive role models outside of school; their whole worldview could be formed by nothing more than social media. Introduce teens to books and films about historical or fictional figures whose resilience won the day.
- Set realistic goals.
Goals should be broken down into smaller steps that require consistent progress, which shows students how sticking with something pays off.
- Encourage kids to get in touch with their spiritual side.
People with spiritual practices – whether it’s yoga, meditation, some form of worship, or what have you – tend to be more compassionate and resilient than those who are totally disconnected from their spiritual side.
- Be accepting.
Not every student is going to have an outwardly can-do attitude, but resilience isn’t about that; it’s about being able to respond to situations in healthy ways.
- Boost their self-esteem.