You are here

Blog: Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Building Resilience and Making Friendships

In a British study of a single family over four (4) generations, they measured the distance that each child (at approximately the same age) was permitted to roam, unsupervised.  Unsupervised means no one was in direct observation of them for that period of time. In 1926, eight year old George mentioned walking to school to the local fishing spot 10km away.  In 1950, walking up to 2 km away to the nearby woods was acceptable for eight year old Jack; by 1967, the third generation daughter Vicki was permitted unsupervised walks to the local pool, about 1 km away. By 1979, eight year old Eddie's roaming space was limited to the line of sight—about 250 metres.  Did our world become more dangerous, or did our level of trust change, and what does it say about how well we are preparing our children to deal with adversity at a young age? How do you meet friends when you can’t go far enough to meet one?

Helping students develop resiliency skillsets (one of our school goals) helps them overcome the daily stressors of life for kids, as well as preparing for the occasional major incidents that cross our path along the way. To be resilient is not about having our every need met; it is about being given the right amount of stress & the right resources to overcome manageable challenges. We can’t teach a child to dribble a basketball by dribbling for them, but we could break it down into manageable parts; two hand bounce, alternate hand bounce, one hand bounce, changing heights bounce—it’s a manageable progression that takes practice.

Resiliency offers HOPE. Under adversity, having control is important, so having adequate resources and supports will give us a fighting chance to succeed, and then WE make decisions, especially if it means getting bruised in the process. Get kids to help plant tulips, and have them guess what colour they will be next Spring. Make a time capsule, and get them to decide what to write to their relatives in the future. And then get them to help you bury it!

Our relationships with people are how we share our highs and balance our lows.  Yes, we could meditate in solitude for years to make us more resilient, but we still have to prepare meals, mow the lawn, do the laundry, check the homework, & pay the bills—all the things that take us off focus.  It is our network of interactions with others which support us emotionally. Close families, best friends, a significant other—they all help build and support resilience.  So that brings me to my last question:  How do we make friends?

Resources and Time: Building resilience in our students starts with giving students as much space as possible to play and interact with their social and physical environment. A blank field isn’t a play space except for organized, supervised sports; put a couple of trees on it and you have summertime shade and a social corner. Put a circular bench around a tree and you have a social routine of parents laughing and students climbing. Build a couple of short beams, or throw down some logs, and you have students aching to grow taller so they can walk & jump between them—and show friends that accomplishment. 175 students fighting over a single zipline doesn’t build resilience, but if you find more places for them to climb, balance, jump and socialize, they might show a little more patience for when the zipline finally is free to use. We get a lot of scraped elbows and knees, but we also get a lot of smiles and interactions between students.  You make friends by positive interactions that build mutual respect. And then, you do it again…and keep doing it.

Have a wonderful Christmas Break!