How to develop resilience in students is a hot topic for a good reason. Resilience is a person’s ability to bounce back after negativity, trauma, tragedy, or unfortunate circumstance threatens to derail their plans or goals.
Learning to be resilient is a critical life skill necessary for coping with life’s challenges in healthy, constructive ways instead of turning to negative, destructive means. The world is challenging and rapidly changing; therefore, we should teach children how to navigate it with resilience activities for students.
Having the ability to rebound from setbacks and tackle challenges head-on gives students the best chance at leading healthy, successful lives. They will learn to grow in all environments and approach new situations with a positive mindset.
How to Develop Resilience in Students
People are inherently resilient. However, doubt, insecurity, and fear take a toll and override this resiliency in moments of anxiety or stress. Over time, these responses train our brains to only draw on our innate resilience when absolutely necessary.
However, there are effective ways to learn how to teach resilience to elementary students, middle school, and high school students.
Promote Inclusion for Children
When children feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they become aware that what they do matters.
Research shows that inclusion is a powerful way to build mental resilience. When students know that they matter, they are more likely to push through tough times, remain optimistic, and react in positive ways.
School administrators, teachers, and staff can encourage students to engage with the school in ways that reach out further than their social circles. Mentoring other students, participating in school events like dances and athletic events, and volunteering are excellent ways students can make a difference and see that what they do matters.
When children are involved in activities with their peers, it has a positive effect on them and others while building emotional resilience at the same time.
Create a Supportive, Safe Learning Environment
Adults should provide an environment where all students are encouraged and supported. This, in turn, promotes an environment in which students feel safe. When they feel safe, students are more likely to act positively and take on a more engaging role with their peers at school.
Encourage students to try new things. Praise their successes and when they make a mistake, emphasize opportunities for growth that have been presented. It’s crucial that progress is recognized.
Building resilience in children happens when they feel like unwanted outcomes won’t mean the “end of the world” for them. They will be more likely to try new, more challenging things. Being encouraged and supported builds self-belief and self-confidence.
Praise Progress as Well as Success
When only wins are celebrated, it enforces a belief that nothing matters except success. To build resilience in children and a willingness to grow, we must recognize progress and effort. Focusing on progress is done by providing feedback to students that calls out their effort, not the outcome.
Praise students every time they overcome a challenge on the way to goals they have set. These goals can be to read a certain number of chapters in a book or gather the nerve to try out for a team or school performance.
Small milestones and achievements along the way should be reported to parents and praised instead of shelving them until report card time.
If children are to develop resilience, they must have the opportunity to reflect on the goals they set. When they are able to break down challenges into smaller, less intimidating milestones, they are less likely to become overwhelmed or deterred by setbacks.
An environment in which students feel free to discuss their goals and strategies for achievement is vital to maintaining a positive mindset.
Recognize and Label Difficult Emotions
To cultivate student resilience, we must teach children how to name emotions so they can foster self-awareness. This also helps them learn to effectively manage those emotions.
When people can notice, name, and interpret the emotions they are feeling, they are more likely to make rational decisions and limit disruptive thoughts.
In the classroom, educators can perform emotional check-ins each day with students using Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions. This exercise uses the wheel to teach words students can use as descriptors for their emotions. Resilient kids can put words to their feelings, which helps them categorize their emotions and their responses to them.
There are eight basic emotions from which all other emotions are derived. When students recognize this, they can learn to identify emotional triggers and become better equipped to respond to them in positive ways.
Use Programs to Build Resilience Through Social-Emotional Learning
Programs that are designed for schools are effective, powerful, meaningful tools to cultivate resilience. Rachel’s Challenge is one such group of programs designed to promote connected, safe school environments where students can be at their best.
These live and digital programs ignite change by helping schools learn how to teach resilience with the hope that students have every opportunity to reach their goals, even when setbacks threaten those achievements.
Schools that have Rachel’s Challenge bring students, teachers, and administrators together benefit from the power of social-emotional learning. The programs focus on the connection between faculty, staff, and students as the key to building a safe haven that nurtures resilience, confidence, and support.
To learn more about having Rachel’s Challenge come to your school or to book an event, fill out this form or contact Rachel’s Challenge, and a member of the program team will be thrilled to reach out to you.