Resilience – An emotional super-power

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela

Throughout the second semester at Lauriston we will be giving attention to transition activities for our children and young people as they move towards their first year of school in Prep, transition to year 7 and our Howqua year, and enter into the senior years of school. Such transition periods are exciting milestones, but they also require our girls to manage change and become accustomed to new learning environments and people. It’s a space where our girls practice their resilience, that is the capacity to rise above difficult circumstances, or bounce back from adversity.

Another example of where we have seen examples of resilient individuals who have been strengthened by the problems each faces, is during the COVID pandemic.  Rather than engage in self-doubt or catastrophic thinking many have looked to find solutions.

The impact of the COVID pandemic on the wellbeing of children and young people is complex and I am sure there will be a good deal of research emanating from this topic in the future. In particular, concerns emerging from the literature I have read focus on the increase in anxiety and mental health issues, re-establishing social connections and belonging at school and with external groups, building the capacity to socialize with others and sustain friendships, feeling hopeful about the future.

Building the levels of resilience in children and young people provide us with a solid foundation from which children and young people will be able to reflect upon past adversities and understand they have the capabilities that will let them bounce back from adversity in the future. To reflect the importance of this, from July 1, 2022, all schools in Victoria will be implementing the new Child Safe Standards and of these Standard 3 has particular relevance for the building of resilience within our children and young people.

Seven crucial Cs of resilience

At Lauriston our holistic integrated approach to wellbeing reflects the Child Safe Standards as well as our core values. It is also based on research. We have used the Seven Cs of resilience developed by American pediatrics specialist, Dr Ken Ginsberg to enhance our personal development curriculum from the junior to the senior years. The Seven Cs are interrelated components. For example, children and young people who contribute to their community will gain confidence and feel more competent. Children and young people who have a sense of control believe in their ability to solve problems and this enhances confidence and competence in looking for solutions. 

The seven Cs are as follows.

  • Competence is the ability or know-how to handle situations effectively and is acquired through actual experience. Children and young people must develop a set of skills that allows them to trust their judgements, make responsible choices, and face difficult situations.
  • Confidence is the solid belief in one’s own abilities and this has links to competence. Children and young people who experience their own competence and know they are safe and protected develop a deep-seated security that promotes the confidence to face and cope with challenges. Confidence derives from a wide range of achievements.
  • Connection: Children and young people with close ties to family, friends, school and community are more likely to have a solid sense of security that produces strong values and a strong sense of belonging to the wider world.
  • Character: Children and young people need a fundamental sense of right and wrong to ensure they are prepared to make wise choices, contribute to the world. They are more comfortable sticking to their own values and demonstrating a caring attitude toward others.
  • Contribution: Children and young people who understand the importance of personal contribution gain a sense of purpose that can motivate them. They will not only take actions and make choices that improve the world, but they will also enhance their own competence, character and sense of connection.
  • Coping: Children and young people who learn to cope effectively with stress are better prepared to overcome life’s challenges. The best protection against unsafe, worrisome behaviours may be a wide repertoire of positive, adaptive coping strategies.
  • Control: When children and young people realise that they can control the outcomes of their decisions and actions, they are more likely to know that they have the ability to do what it takes to bounce back.

 

Finding wellbeing through connection

An important component of being a resilient person and indeed one of the Cs, is having connections with family, friends and school which provides children and young people with a sense of belonging and enables them to build trusting relationships. It is important for children and young people to have multiple circles of connection and in practical terms, this means that they build connections at school through the various activities they participate in, their own year group and also with groups they associate with outside of school, such as sporting clubs, musical groups, ballet or performing arts. Our young people should be encouraged to have a broad circle of friends and acquaintances who provide them with opportunities to foster their personal interests, offer different perspectives and opinions and enable them to gain support when there might be a conflict with another group.

Empathy is one important component when making connections with people. When a child or young person can feel what a situation may be like from the perspective of another person, they hopefully will learn to be less judgmental and more understanding. Demonstrating empathy is part of character building, I believe, and both our junior and senior students are encouraged to show kindness and understanding towards their peers.

Apart from our wellbeing curriculum there are activities and opportunities available for our girls to build their resilience. Our House system enhances the ability of our students to make connections with their friends and school.

Our Senior students are very good role models and demonstrate the value of participation in House activities. House Swimming and House Drama provide two good examples of activities where our girls were not only connected with their peers, but they also built their levels of confidence and competence through their participation.

Throughout the first semester, sport, debating, drama and music activities have come to life at Lauriston once more. I proudly cheered our Senior AFL team as they were the victors in our annual Huntingtower-Heyington Shield match with St Catherines.

 

Our GSV teams and Junior School students have enjoyed competing against other schools and felt what it was like to achieve success. We have seen an increase in the number of students participate in DAV Debating, Year 7 and 8 debating and public speaking competitions. I have enjoyed attending our Autumn Concerts and recitals throughout the semester.

Our focus on the 7 Cs of resilience places Lauriston well to continue to develop curriculum and activities which will empower our children and young people through fostering friendships, encouraging participation and enabling their voices and opinions to be heard.

Susan Just

Principal, Lauriston Girls’ School