Monday, May 4, 2015

Promoting Resiliency in Elementary School

Every child will experience events with a different amount of grace or resiliency. Whether a child has suffered a traumatic experience or losing a pet (which could be considered traumatic), every event, big or small, do not determine how resilient a child will be. Many factors can take a toll on how children may react to life, including: cognitive ability, personality, family background, family reactions and supportive relationships. Resiliency takes place when children show grace and flexibility when changes in their routines occur or important events cause sudden chaos in their minds and lives. 

Resiliency Traits 

Researchers have begun to identify characteristics common among resilient youth, including positive social competence, good problem solving skills and, overall, an ability to cope with challenging life events in ways that produce positive health outcomes when negative outcomes would otherwise occur (Griffin, 2005). Every case is different and every child will react differently to the same event. It is important for teachers, counselors and administration to give grace to students in times of crisis. According to Grotberg, When adults encourage children to participate in the family or classroom by giving them responsibilities and offering them choices about their environment, young children feel a sense of belonging and competence," (1995). School counselors need to be equipped and prepared to provide children with the best environment where resiliency can prosper and grow. 

What School Can Offer

While familial support or counseling outside of school are important avenues in times of trouble, it is not the only resource. School Counselors, teachers and administration can provide students in school with kindness and comfort in order to build self-esteem and make school a “safe haven”. Students spend the majority of their lives in school and can be a place of safety, comfort and structure amidst chaos. According to Edith Grotberg, a developmental psychologist, “Resilience is important because it is the human capacity to face, overcome and be strengthened by or even transformed by the adversities of life” (1995). 

Children need love and trust, hope and autonomy. Along with safe havens they need safe relationships that can foster friendships and commitment. They need the loving support and self-confidence, the faith in themselves and their world, all of which builds resilience (Grotberg, 1995). School counselors have the knowledge and skills in order to provide a foundation for building self-reliance and resiliency in students. As role models they play a critical role in providing the tools and environment to grow. 

Griffin, J. P.,Jr. (2005). The building resiliency and vocational excellence (BRAVE) program: A violence-prevention and role model program for young, african american males. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 16(4), 78-88. Retrieved from 
Grotberg, E. 1995. “A Guide to Promoting Resilience in Children. Strengthening the Spirit.” Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflection series, Bernard van Leer Foundation.

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