Resilience is the ability to cope and thrive in the face of negative events, challenges or adversity. Key attributes of resilience in at-risk youth include:
social competence and optimism
a sense of purpose and responsibility
attachment to family, to school and to learning
effective problem solving and coping skills
a sense of self-efficacy and positive self-regard.
While the National Resilience Institute defines resiliency based on the 6 following traits:
As an Educator what can I do to enhance resilience
Teachers and schools can enhance resilience through modeling effective behavior and emphasizing positive and social norms between teachers, peers and the academic goals of our youth’s academic/social environment.
Why teaching resilience matters?
Resilience enables people of all ages to thrive and take on all that life has to offer, including the inevitable challenges.
Resilience can benefit any youth who may be struggling with their mental health.
In addition, the rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 26. Adolescents are prone to at-risk behavior simply based on their brain development, as result, by building resilience in young people, we are empowering them to be able to learn from their mistakes and to understand that failing is okay – it’s an integral part of the learning journey.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet.
The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 26. Adolescents are prone to at-risk behavior simply based on their brain development. The diagram below compares an adult and teenager’s brain.
In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.
In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.
What’s a parent to do?
You’re the most important role model your kids have. Sure, their friends are important to them, but the way you behave and fulfill your responsibilities will have a profound and long-lasting effect on your children.
Remind your teens that they’re resilient and competent. Because they’re so focused in the moment, adolescents have trouble seeing they can play a part in changing bad situations. It can help to remind them of times in the past they thought would be devastating, but turned out for the best.
Become familiar with things that are important to your teens. It doesn’t mean you have to like hip-hop music, but showing an interest in the things they’re involved in shows them they’re important to you.
Ask teens if they want you to respond when they come to you with problems, or if they just want you to listen.
Signs of trouble
It’s normal for teens to be down or out of sorts for a couple of days. But if you see a significant mood or behavioral change that lasts more than 2 weeks, it could mean something else is going on, such as depression.
If you think your teen could be depressed or struggling with mental health, promptly seek professional treatment for your child. Depression is serious and, if left untreated, can be life-threatening.
Teen need guidance, even though they may think they don’t. Understanding their development can help you support them in becoming independent, responsible adults.
Find out more about the Guidelines for Working with At-Risk Youth by checking this previous post.