There are many new challenges for younger children in our schools. Some may be able to use self-taught coping strategies to work through them. Other students may not be able to do this as easily. These children require additional support in social and emotional skills. Some schools have sought to adopt programs which will help students to learn these skills before heading into middle school.
Resilience Programs for Students
Resilience is the ability to adapt to not only hardship but everyday challenges. These are skills that young students will benefit from as they head into their teen years. With increases in stress, bullying, social media negativity, and more, teens may struggle with how to keep their head up and work through it. This can result in anxiety, depression, and potentially negative behaviors. The focus of these programs is to enhance social competence and self-regulation skills.
The Resilience Builder Program is one which works with young children on techniques to handle their emotions. One example they are taught is to visualize a remote control for thoughts. With this, they are able to switch negative thoughts to happier feelings. Through group sessions, students work on ways to face challenges. During these meetings they use discussions, hands-on learning, role-play, and more to develop more personal space awareness, anger management, friendship skills, and beyond. By the end of the time, kids develop more self-esteem, self-control, and coping strategies.
Learning Skills to Last a Lifetime
School therapists also spend a lot of time during these group sessions working on relaxation techniques. These may include yoga, calm breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization. Most of these programs also include work that needs to go home. Kids are asked to complete some sheets to continue using what they have learned in real life.
With family support, practice at home, and during sessions, kids begin to be able to generalize what they have learned in the group and apply it. When students have specific skills to build friendships and cope with negatives, they are able to focus more on their studies. If a situation comes up, not only are they able to self-regulate, they hopefully will have friends who will be around them to comfort and support them.
Create a committee to see if a resilience program would be beneficial to your school. It may be something that has to be done after school, so look into what will be practical. Would students in late elementary school benefit from this before starting the transition to middle school? Think about funding, who would run the program, and what kids would benefit from it within your building.
Has your school used a resilience program with students? Please share how you have implemented it and any success stories in our comments section below. It may also be helpful to let others know what did not work and how you made adjustments to better serve the students.