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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Resiliency: The Best View of the Sky is from the Ground

We can teach resilience.

Resilience- the ability to cope successfully with adversity, is not only a naturally developed skill that many use as a means of survival, it is an ability that can be shaped and encouraged through specific activities that can be effectively taught in the classroom. "Contributory Activities", those activities in which children are involved in helping others, have been shown to make children less likely to display negative or angry behaviors and to foster resilience or practical problem solving. When we can convince children that they make a difference in the way we live, and we work at communicating with them in positive ways, they respond.

Even though schools are great places to develop resilience in children, parents can encourage practical problem solving by discussing why things have to be done, having family meetings, and collaborating about the conditions under which activities will be completed. Drs. Kenneth A. Dodge and Robert Brooks assert in the book Raising Resilient Children, that "success builds upon success, and that children faced with oceans of adversity, must be helped to find islands of competence."

As school psychologists, we can contribute to the relations our students have with us and to their levels of desire to persevere, adapt and thrive in their environments. We can teach ways to self-regulate ,and help our students to maintain good strong mentoring relationships.

The circumstances in the districts where we work can be dire. Children are failed by us more often than they are served. In addition to seeing the natural sparks in the metaphorical eyes of the children we serve, we must uncover the buried sparks and ignite sparks where they have been extinguished. What are some specific interventions that can encourage children?

Posted by Tammarra R. Jones.


Courtney said...

I think when considering appropriate interventions that teach children resiliency we must consider those resources that occur both inside and outside of the individual. External Assets include (but are not limited to):
– Support
– Empowerment
– Boundaries and Expectations
– Constructive Use of Time

Internal Assets include but are not limited to):
– Commitment to Learning
– Positive Values
– Social Competencies
– Positive Identity

These resources can be taught to the individual in a variety of ways, but it is vital that we "sell" the child on the importance of acquiring these assets in meaningful and readily identifiable ways.

In my experience, empowering the individual has the most immediate positive response. It can be something small such as collaborating with the students regarding classroom rules as I have previously done with my students. I explained that we were all members of our classroom community and therefore we should all be a part of deciding what expectations we had as equal members of the shared environment. The students felt valued and empowered and therefore conducted themselves in a more adherent manner.

Roxane Nassirpour said...

I am coming to view our position increasingly as a consultant. I believe that the kids should remain in the classroom and that we should help the teachers in that task. I think that having token economies maintained and displayed in a prominent place in the classroom helps the children feel good about their accomplishments.

However, when it comes to developing the IEP plans, it is crucial to have the child act as a member of the team. The plan is about them, their education. It is for us to guide them in the process, teach them how to advocate for themselves and what they need. This is a skill that will serve them throughout their academic career.

Jessica S said...

I think that mentor programs are a great way to provide encouragement and even companionship to children at risk. As one of my professors said, when one thinks about children in the at-risk category, who have so many odds stacked against them, the ones who "made it" almost always had some sort of mentor, someone who cared about the child and his/her welfare.

We also need to have more social programs in school that encourage the development of positive self-esteem and empowerment in one's own life. People who feel like they have little control over their lives, as is the case with many at-risk children, are often depressed and angry. As a result, they do not succeed. School should not just be about the three R's, but it should be a safe haven that fosters learning and encourages personal growth for every child.

Tammarra said...


You are right. We have to actively convince children that they have the abilities to devlop these skills. Some young people have little opportunity to see their own worth.


Especially as consultants, we have the chance to positively impact many students in the present and the future.