Resilience is broader. It’s about overcoming negative circumstances or adversity in your life, handling your emotions, and still remaining healthy and competent. For example, this might be about children continuing to develop and grow despite an unstable home life, trauma, stress, or poverty
Here is where we get into nature and nurture. While some children are naturally resilient and persevere easily, many more will require your help to build these skills.
As you can see, resilience and perseverance are not the same, but the tools children need to build them have a lot of crossovers.
They can be mainly split into two categories. First and foremost is the environment of the child. How stable is home life? Do they have a strong support network? What’s their community like? Do they have adult figures they can trust? Even when home life is more unstable, that’s precisely where early years settings can become a key pillar of stability in their life.
The second? That’s the skills children need to develop in order to grow their perseverance and resilience. According to psychologist Ann Masten, these include things like problem-solving, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and the effective schooling and communities we’ve already talked about.
Let’s dig into some specific ideas on how to do exactly that.
“We have found emotionally responsive caregiving to mediate the effects of high-risk environments and to promote positive change for children who have experienced poverty, family stress, and maltreatment.”
- Resilience As Process, Byron Egeland, Elizabeth Carlson, and L. Alan Sroufe, 2009
1. Building relationships
There’s only really one place to start – and it’s probably something you’re already working on.
Children learn best when they feel understood, accepted, and loved. This is why the key person system is so widely adopted. A focus on attachment in your youngest children will help them to develop into healthy, happy learners.
As the historic EPPE project showed, quality of parental involvement has a considerable impact on outcomes, much more so than adversity as a way of building resilience. That’s why it’s important that you also use your position where possible to encourage parental involvement and help to make parents aware of what they can do to help grow their child’s confidence, self-regulation, and wellbeing.
We know that children learn so much from observing those around them. As a trusted adult, it’s crucial that you are conscious of the behaviour that you model to the children around you.
One example of this is when you’re faced with a problem. Provided it’s an appropriate discussion, it’s fine to discuss this with practitioners around you, modelling how children can work together to solve a problem they’re facing.
As ever, this also comes down to your knowledge of your cohorts – do your key people fully understand each child’s stressors? When your practitioners understand each child’s individual stressors, they can much more easily provide an environment that each child can thrive in.
Check out the further reading section at the end for more on this link between stress and learning.
4. Support self-regulation
Self-regulation is all about how we regulate our own behaviours. It’s everything from how we cope when we might feel angry to how we behave in a way that keeps us safe.
One major piece of advice is to avoid using rewards and consequences for behaviour, focusing instead on helping children to learn to do the right thing in order to learn and be kind.
5. Acknowledge emotions
When a child is experiencing new or unfamiliar emotions for the first time, it’s pretty scary.
You can help them to understand those emotions by giving it a name, acknowledging and validating what they’re going through. It shows empathy and helps them to reinforce how they’re feeling, which can help to develop the self-regulation they need.
Use phrases like ‘I know that you’re upset’ or ‘I can see that you’re angry’, and children will know that it’s OK to feel how they feel.
6. Help to understand change
Even as adults we find change difficult. Just ask the rest of the Famly team what happened the last time I had to move my desk.
So think how it must feel to a child who is constantly put through changes in their young lives. When you know that a child is going through a change or a transition, make sure you take the time to ask them about how they’re feeling. If necessary, go through activities or stories that might help them to connect how they’re feeling to the real world.
7. Allow children to problem-solve
Problem-solving skills are all too easily left undeveloped when parents or practitioners step in too quickly to offer their own solution to a problem.
Risky play is thrilling and exciting, and it’s the perfect challenge for children who want to test their limits and build their perseverance. Most importantly, it’s naturally enticing for most kids, making it the perfect vehicle to test their boundaries and develop perseverance.
You’ll find lots of the pieces that we read in order to understand the topic of resilience and perseverance littered throughout this article, but here’s a few other nice pieces to read if you want to learn more.
From Me To You by Sarah Cox in Nursery World – If you have access to Nursery World, there’s a brilliant article from the 10 August 2018 issue about resilience based on research by Sarah Cox. Worth a read.
Find out below how Famly helped Tenderlinks in recording child development, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.
“Famly’s strengthening our parent partnerships as staff can quickly note down meaningful observations and then come back to them later ensuring they can stay focused on the children." - Vicky-Leigh, Manager, Tenderlinks Nursery
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