Growing Strong: Four Characteristics of Resilient Children

It is a rare individual who does not encounter  disappointments and difficulties during their childhood years. As counselors, we have the privilege of nurturing tomorrow’s leaders and helping them develop courage and resilience in order to handle these difficulties.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, overcome obstacles, and adapt positively to life’s challenges. It’s not about avoiding difficulties but rather about facing them with courage, resourcefulness, and a growth mindset.

In my twenty years as a school counselor, I counseled children in coping with their parent’s divorce, the death of a beloved grandparent and rejection by peers.  While some children adjust to and deal with challenging and even tragic situations, others seem stuck and unable to move past them.  What makes the difference?  How is it that some children are more resilient than others?

Here are some important characteristics that parents and educators can encourage and develop:

Resilient children recognize the areas where they have control in their lives– Children who are given choices as well as opportunities to make decisions learn that they can impact their world.  They learn to evaluate their circumstances and not only react to them but also to create and manage change. They are heroes who tackle the challenges in their lives rather than victims who give in and give up when life gets tough.

Resilient children have a growth mindset and learn from failure: They approach problems with a solution-oriented mindset, seeking out creative ways to overcome obstacles rather than feeling overwhelmed by them. They experience failure and undesirable outcomes as an opportunity to learn and develop rather than as a sign they should give up. Resilient children  rebound from difficult times.  Instead of letting failure define them as losers, they see it as valuable feedback on how to handle obstacles and become winners in the future.

Resilient children recognize their gifts and talents: Children who are in touch with their own strengths are able develop them, share them and appreciate the strengths of others.  While they don’t ignore areas of weakness, they focus on and maximize their unique abilities.

Resilient children believe that they matter as human being: Resilient children have a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in their abilities, allowing them to face setbacks without losing sight of their value. Children who have a belief in their own self-worth, express that belief through encouraging and empowering others. They can ultimately become a guide to help others cope with similar situations.

School counselors are uniquely positioned to guide elementary school children on their journey of resilience, empowering them to face challenges with strength, courage, and determination.


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