10 September 2018

Building Resilience

"How many of us started something full of excitement and good intentions, and then give up permanently when we encounter the first real obstacle, the first long plateau in progress?" Duckworth 2017.

What is success? It is a trophy, a title? Is it a big house, a nice car? Accolades from your peers? Our children see the end product of effort in their successful role models. They don't see their efforts and failures.

So, what is holding children back? Some have a belief our talents or intelligence are fixed traits. They feel they cannot get better at something so they don't try. They may have a lowered resilience in the face of setbacks and a reduced recognition of the benefit of persistent focused effort. As parents, have we ensured that they face so little adversity they don't try? How do they learn to get back up if they are not allowed to fall down?

'Our only limitations are those we setup in our own minds.' Napoleon Hill 1937.

Luke McKenna from UPP talks about the three keys to building resilience. First is mindset for growth and growth for learning. Benjamin Baber sees the world not as 'the successes and the failures' but as 'the learners and the non-learners'. When we overemphasize talent, we underemphasize the effort, persistence and commitment it took to succeed. Hard work beats talent that doesn't work hard. But talent that works hard can do amazing things.

Second, Luke spoke about being aware of obstacles. He recommends the TOP method for smart goal setting. Set your target (T), identify your potential obstacles (O), and set your plan for overcoming those obstacles (P). His research indicates that using this approach, people are 60% more likely to stick to their plan.

We want our children to thrive through hard work and grit. They should be exposed to role models of failure and success. We want them to aim for continuous improvement and learn to set targets. To develop approaches and routines that become habit forming. To learn to delay gratification until the ultimate goal has been achieved and learn that mastery of any skills is only achieved through deliberate and repeated practice. Talent times effort equals skill. Effort times skill equals achievement.

The third key Luke speaks about is providing children with the tools in their tool kit they need to try again and succeed. We need to teach them how to build good relationships with others including adults and peers. To help them develop their independence and personal responsibility. To identify, express and manage their emotions. And to build their confidence by taking on personal challenges.

The world today presents expectations on children that can be higher than reality. By working to equip our children with what they will require to navigate the ups and downs and to learn to bounce back, we are preparing them for successes down the road.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School