Recently, Dr Loretta Giorcelli shared the main domains of resilience. Resiliency is the protective cling film that helps us withstand life’s challenges and tribulations. It’s our lifeboat when the ship is sinking, giving us that extra time while we repair what’s gone wrong. Resilience is formed through a combination of genetics, temperament, and environmental forces. In the pressure-cooker of Hong Kong, communication skills, which helps foster resiliency may be the most important skill your child needs to develop.
- Secure base
- Friendship & Social Competence
- Talents and interests
- Positive values
The positive-oriented parent(s), extended family, caregivers, friends and physical surroundings all factor in to creating a secure environment. These individuals must be competent, present and available to the child in order to create that deep sense of emotional security. Limits and boundaries are also critical. However for those used to the intensity of Hong Kong, a healthy dose of independence is also needed, where the child feels that the caregiver is confident enough in the child to strike out on his/her own. Sheeber et al.(2007) noted, “The most widely reported finding with regard to family processes is that depression is inversely related to the level of support, attachment, and approval adolescents experience in the family environment.”
It is time to strengthen the bonds between parent(s)-student-school in order to create an environment where children can thrive. Children in Hong Kong often report that school is a place to endure rather than thrive, a place of boredom and a place where their thoughts, ideas and sense of place are actively squashed. This leads to depression, disillusionment and underachievement. Children lose their self-esteem, optimism and ability to achieve self-mastery. Helping your children learn communication skills, advanced problem solving ability and fostering intellectual curiosity may provide a buffer of resilience in the midst school oppression. Helping your child find that one teacher or coach that ‘mentors’ your child, even in a difficult school environment can give your child that extra dose of flexibility.
FRIENDSHIP and SOCIAL COMPETENCE
Studies show that friendships are critical to child development, social functioning and success in later life. In that line, children must have the opportunity to develop the skills critical to the creation of friendship. Playdates, social opportunities and finding other children interested in the same things as your child will help foster important relationships amongst peers and with others. In a recent review of skills that children will need once they graduate from school, 5 out of 12 require the ability to communicate and collaborate with others. These skills all start with friendship.
TALENTS AND INTERESTS
Consider professional athletes for a moment…immediately, one can deduce this is a segment of the population trained for resiliency. Studies indicate that professional athletes (and athletes at high levels in general) are trained in a number of techniques such as “goal setting, imagery, relaxation, concentration, and self-talk. In the majority of cases, athletes and musicians train in an area they like or love. They are the ones that take their interest and commit to it’s development. No matter your child’s pursuit, perhaps it is worth letting him/her explore these areas, even if they are unconventional. As another recent speaker mentioned, “Kids are now able to make careers out of things that never existed 20 years ago such as professional gaming, YouTube and more.” If a child never has the opportunity to explore their talents and interests, they will never know how successful they could really become. Pursuing interests increases self-esteem, competency and self-mastery…all of which increase resilience.
Looking at the bright side of life not only can help you enjoy life more, but it also provides a buffer when the going gets tough. Parents that model progress in lieu of perfection, framing problems as opportunities for problem solving and teaching goal setting methods can help children learn to cope with everyday demands. Organizational skills can also help take the burden off of the multitude of stresses our children manage from elementary school to university. Using techniques such as bullet journaling and visual schedule organizers provide a backbone structure where mental energy can be devoted to other endeavours. In fact, the more we can help our children automate everyday processes, the more thinking power they can devote to learning. Whether your child’s temperament is glass half full or glass half empty, it’s critical as parents to listen and allow our children to express negative feelings and that seeking help is also a positive value.