In PreK-Corner, I share and have discussions with you about issues that cover the journey children take from birth to school age, and how this journey will affect them throughout their lives.
Let’s start with adult resilience and an example of a basketball. A deflated basketball is still a ball, but because it is void of air, it cannot do what it was designed to do. Once it is filled back up with air, it can then bounce and even be used to score the winning basket. Unexpected tragedies or traumatic events in life may knock the wind out of us, but with acquired inner strength and support, we can bounce back. The ability to bounce back is called resilience.
Another definition of resilience is a speedy recovery from problems and the ability to recover quickly from setbacks. As adults, we, through life experiences, have learned to be resilient. However, sometimes as adults, we take for granted that young children have this ability naturally or that they are born resilient. For example, I have heard adults say, “He is young. He (or she) will get over it.” Research reveals that children who have not learned to cope with trauma may never get over it. Children need adults to teach them how to develop strength, acquire skills to cope and help them recover from hardships. These skills prepare children for future challenges they will face as teenagers and into adulthood.
Children learn resilience from the adults in their lives. Resilient adults are described as having healthy relationships with family and friends, self-confidence and demonstrate a positive mindset. They see themselves as secure rather than as victims and set an example for young children by dealing with stress in healthy ways instead of using harmful coping outlets such as substance abuse.
A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a neighborhood friend’s grandmother. At the homegoing service, a young boy who was about 5 years old appeared to be sad, afraid and very confused as he looked at his great grandmother lying in a casket. He was walking up to adults in the family trying to ask questions but was lovingly directed to be quiet and sit down. The death of a family member is a traumatic experience for all especially for young children. Some of his stress could have been alleviated if someone would have had a conversation with him before the funeral about what to expect, answer his questions and address his fears and concerns.
We adults sometimes get overwhelmed with how we are feeling during times of hardship and unintentionally disregard what children are going through. It is essential to use these moments as teachable opportunities. With the help of the adults in their lives, such as teachers, caregivers, guardians and parents children can learn to be. Resiliency causes them not to let setbacks keep them from becoming secure in their ability to fulfill their purpose in life. Look for more on resilience in next month’s column.
Dr. Mattie Jones, associate provost, professor and dean of School of Education at Martin University and founder of PreK-Keys Consulting, can be contacted at email@example.com or www.prekkeys.com.