Families Growing Together: Resilience Can Be Taught

by Margaret Evans, Director of Lifespan Learning

Resilience is a hard concept to teach to young people; truthfully, it is an illusive concept for many adults, too. I’ve read recently in Jonathan Haidt’s book The Happiness Hypothesis that some people are born more resilient than others. He calls this the “genetic lottery”; you win if you happen to be born with more resilience than another person.

How do you teach resilience to children or youth, if it isn’t their most abundant character trait?

Like many character traits in life, it comes to us through practice. I believe that we do ourselves and our loved ones a disservice if we promise a life full of only happiness and goodness. It isn’t; at least not for most. Resilience is teaching our children that although there is hardship in life, there is peacefulness and calmness found within ourselves. For some it may take more effort to find, but for everyone it is worth finding. We aren’t all made the same in this world, but by engaging in community we can help others to find resilience.

Engage with your imagination about what your response will be to your child when something unpleasant happens to them. Respond with kindness and compassion, and when the time is right, with some encouragement to see beyond the problem, to a solution or changed opinion. This take time and practice but then again, most things in life do.

Watch together Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove and discuss together how the Emperor’s attitude changed over time with his new ‘appearance’.