As parents and teachers we need to teach our children and students to be resilient in order for them to develop into well-adjusted adults. What is resilience? In short, it is the ability to “bounce back” after a setback or failure; it is one’s ability to deal with adversity constructively.

Nobody wants to fail. We don’t like to encounter setbacks or roadblocks as we weather the vicissitudes of life. However, as we come to realize, obstacles are inevitable and perpetual.

That we will face adversity isn’t a question of if, but rather when.

To a great extent, failure allows one to grow. The practical reality is that adversity is a part of life; how we respond to adversity, and how quickly we bounce back is what determines our maturity and peace of mind. Resilient people are happier and more comfortable with the highs and lows of life.

So, can resilience be taught? It certainly can. Great parents model resilience and excellent schools create opportunities in the curriculum to teach what I think of as the tools of resilience.

Consider some of the practical skills that will help our children become more resilient:

  • Encourage young people to rehearse constructive reactions to adversity.
  • Rather than dwell on “why me,” realize that one always has options; “How do I move forward?” and “What can I do?” are resilient questions.
  • Encourage children to learn to appreciate the present moment.
  • Demonstrate the value of support systems available; no one has to go through a difficult situation alone.
  • Model maturity in front of children when adversity occurs; teach the value and importance of “grace under pressure.”
  • Teach kids to resist the Siren Song of technology; learn to enjoy life without constant screen time.

In sense, adversity and resilience allow us to grow into the people that God wants us to be.

Resilience will make life’s journey so much more manageable fulfilling.

Warner T. James, Jr.
Headmaster, Trinity School of Frederick