“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Nelson Mandela, from his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, published in 1994.

Resilience: Giving your Demons the Big Boot
Resilience: Giving your Demons the Big Boot
by Liam M, age 6

Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from difficult life experiences.

Resilient kids are able to “bounce back,” as they say.

  • How do you cope? 
  • How do you continue on with your life? 
  • Will you grow up to be a happy, content, and successful person despite the hard times in your childhood? 

Why should we care about resilience?
At some point, every kid has to deal with a disappointment, an unexpected event, or tough times in general. These occurrences are often beyond our control. But what we can control is how we react when troubling events happen. Dwelling on events or letting the stress of the event get the best of you can cause you to be sad, lonely, and not live up to your potential.

Top 5 Tips for Building Resilience:

1) Learn to feel good about yourself–Increase your self-esteem.

  • Think about what you are good at (start thinking now!). 
  • Examples: academics, art, sports, hobbies, jobs or even personal characteristics such as making friends. 
  • If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, ask your friends, parents, or teachers what they think.  
  • Make a list of your strengths and tape it to your mirror (or wall) in your bedroom, so you can see it every morning before school.

2) Set goals and aspirations.

  • Think both short term (goals for this week, this season, this school year) and long term (life goals).
  • What do you want to accomplish in school, in sports/afterschool activities, in your hobbies?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Write these goals down and note how you can accomplish them.

Example 1: short term goals: I want to get an A in math, but I am having trouble with geometry. What can I do?
I can stay after class and talk with my teacher to see if she has any suggestions:

  • tutors
  • extra problems to work on
  • computer games that may help

Example 2: long term goals: I want to be a writer when I grow up. What can I do now to prepare?

  • Start by keeping a journal, or even a blog (with permission from your parents)
  • Write something every day

3) Don’t ignore your problems BUT don’t dwell on your problems.
When something bad happens to you, whether someone was mean to you at school or your mom lost her job, you are allowed to feel sad (or scared, anxious, etc). Part of coping is accepting your problems and trying to think of ways you can deal with them.

  • Embrace your feelings! Find an outlet to express your feelings, such as talking to friends/teachers/parents/guidance counselors or writing in a journal.
  • Make a list of the things in your life that are hard, stressful, or may be bothering you.
  • Brainstorm ways you can overcome these.
  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help with this. Guidance counselors can be great at thinking of suggestions.

4) Make a difference in your community.

Figure out what matters to you and get involved.

  • Do you want to change some of the rules or policies at your school? Run for student government or just talk to your teacher about your suggestions to see if they can be implemented.
  • Do you love kids? Volunteer at the local hospital or library to read to children.
  • Do you like to teach? Check out what opportunities are available in your school/town for you to tutor other kids.
  • If activities don’t exist, try to start them! Talk to your principle, teachers, even your  town or city hall to see what can be done to start programs in your community.

For inspiration, click here.

Do you do something to make a difference in your community? Feel free to share on the Community page!

If you have a cause that could use more volunteers, let us know so we can share it with other readers.

5) Be your own cheerleader.
Acknowledge your accomplishments, even if no one else does.

  • What have you done in your life that you are proud of?
  • Make a list of your accomplishments each week (Try making one now!).
  • Remember, nothing is too small for the list.
  • Example: Things I am proud of this week: scoring better than last week on my spelling test, making a new friend at school, going to soccer practice every day even though I really didn’t feel like it.
  • Sometimes we all feel down on ourselves, but if we think hard, we have lots of things we do that we should be proud of!

Are you going through a tough time now?
Have you gone through tough times in the past and discovered something that helped you get through them?
Share your experiences with CIOS on the Community page!

Further Reading about Resilience: click here