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Building Resilience

Being Resilient

Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life

We can learn to be more resilient

Resilient people cope better with difficulties

Resilience is a key factor in protecting and promoting good mental health. It relates to the things (both internal and external) that act as protective factors to help us cope with the ups and downs of life. The focus of the first unit is to introduce children to the concept of resilience and how we can support its development.

In order to help children to grasp the tricky concept of resilience we will refer to life being like a river. As we travel down the river of life, sometimes we find ourselves in calm waters where the journey is relaxed and enjoyable. However, sometimes we can find ourselves in turbulent waters, full of obstacles and difficulties and the journey becomes about survival and keeping our heads above water.

Some children are lucky enough to be born in the calm waters, where all those about them are able to help protect and support the child and teach them valuable skills to navigate the river. However, some children are born into the more turbulent waters where they may not have the same support and learning these skills can be harder, as resources are scarce and adults around them are also struggling to keep their heads above water. Equally, our starting points may be influenced by biological, organic and genetic factors that are out with our control.

Wherever we may start, we can all find ourselves in turbulent waters during our lives e.g. as a result of bereavement, job loss, setbacks, illness, relationship breakdown etc. So the key question is how can we gather resources around us and learn and develop skills and strategies that protect us in tougher times and help us to navigate back to calmer waters.

Equally important is to guard against the desire to protect children from experiencing the ups and downs of the river of life by grounding them to the shore. In the effort to keep them safe and deal with all their difficulties for them, research suggests this might be undermining the development of resilience. Instead, our role is to help teach children to develop the skills and strategies, build resources and support to help them to cope with setbacks, so that, as they grow up, they have the tools necessary to look after and support their own mental health and wellbeing.

In the Building Resilience programme, the children are introduced to our character called Skipper. Skipper, is the captain of his boat, and like everyone journeying on the River of Life, goes through various ups and downs on his journey. On his way, he will introduce the children to ten different tools and resources that help us to navigate the river of life and support the development of resilience.