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Resilience & mental wellbeing in children & young people - #WeNurses
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We all want our children to grow up well and to become the best people they can be. We also know that whatever we do, however protective we are of them, life will throw its slings and arrows, bad things happen, and the road can be rocky. Why do some people and children manage better during hard times than others? This is especially true as children pass through what we call ‘life transitions’, like changing schools, parental separation, moving to college or leaving home. But it is equally true when friendship difficulties occur or they experience bullying, failures, losses or indeed bereavement.
What can we as parents or professionals do to help our children grow up to have this thing called resilience? Resilience helps them stay on track when life events might otherwise knock them off. Having more resilience helps children cope and contributes to their self-confidence. It reinforces their self-belief and confidence, that they will be ok, and indeed that they will flourish.
So, what is resilience?
It’s the result of a highly interactive process, between your child’s individual characteristics and their environment, their world in which they are growing up. (Shonkoff, 2017)
Resilience is about counterbalancing difficult things that can exist in a child’s life with positive things. These positive things come from their key relationships in their family, their friends and their community. Let’s explore that further. We need a better understanding of what it is. Most importantly we need to know what steps, as parents and professionals, we can take to bolster it.
What does science tell us about resilience?
Science tells us that some children are born with tendencies that may make positive outcomes more likely. Other children are born with tendencies that make negative outcomes more likely. However, it is the experiences of our lives that shift the balance. This is crucial. How we are nurtured and what we experience, ‘events’ in our lives and relationships are so important. Life experiences will either shift the balance further towards positive outcomes or further towards negative outcomes for our children.
Some people feel that the current generation is less resilient than previously; if this is true what can we do to change this vulnerability?
Do you think that lifestyle decisions; choice of diet, exercise, digital lives, sleep, substances, have any impact on resilience-mental wellbeing? If so, what can we do to encourage positive choices?
Do you see a role for social networks in building resilience amongst children and young people? If so, what are the best ways to tap into this?
What top 3 tips would you give a friend to nurture resilience in our children and young people?
What top 3 tips would you give our schools to nurture resilience in our children and young people?
Further resources and help
MindEd is a free website, accessible by phone, tablet or computer, funded by Government in the UK and open to all. Here you will find a wealth of high quality assured advice and learning to support you as parents, www.MindEdforfamilies.org.uk
The topics have been co-created by parents with lived experience and the best professional authors in their fields.
This includes topics for parents on parenting, tips for parents, parenting the child with issues, mindfulness, keeping strong (during tough times), should I be concerned?, what to do if I am concerned and what to do in a crisis. There are also sessions on understanding and better supporting children’s digital lives, helping them to be more ‘digitally resilient’ and many more topics.
Each topic has a downloadable easy read PDF as well.
In MindEd for Professionals you will find furthermore detailed sessions, covering all these topics and much more in over 330 sessions. You can find all aspects of child adolescent mental health, from attachment, to child and family development, to specific problems and disorders.
These resources are all also free and open access. They can be very useful for older young people in years 10,11,12 and 13 who might be interested in studying psychology and mental health in the future.
References & further reading
Dr Michael Ungaron Resilience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15D1QuNLH0c
Prof Jack Shonkoffand colleagues at Harvard University
Dr Dan Siegal (the“4 S” author)
Dr. ErainaSchauss: a more professional’s orientated lecture on resilience covering manycomplex but important areas for those who wish to go into more detail
Young Minds and‘Boingboing’ on academic resilience: A UK national charity supporting childrenand young people’s emotional health and wellbeing.