On a beautiful late summer morning, two young boys started their first day of primary school.
They were very much alike, these two boys.
Both came from caring and nurturing families, both were bright and engaging and both—as young children tend to be—were eager and excited to start school.
Recently, these two boys, now young adults, finished year 12.
They were still very much alike. Both enjoyed basketball. Both played the same video games.
And both, as it turned out, had gone to the same well-regarded secondary school.
But there was a difference.
One of the boys had become overwhelmed by stress and worry. He had lost his self-confidence and motivation and his VCE results reflected this.
The other boy found that, although the VCE years were challenging and stressful, he was able to cope with the challenges and stress. He worked hard and achieved results that reflected his true potential.
What made the difference?
Have you ever wondered what makes this kind of difference in children’s lives?
It isn’t just intelligence or natural ability. It isn’t that one child wants to succeed and the other doesn’t.
The difference lies in the coping skills and mindset each child learns early on and how this shapes their experience as they tackle life’s daily challenges.
In short, one boy was more resilient than the other.
Did you know roughly half of all mental health issues start by age 14?
Or that 1 in 7 school-age children suffer from a mental health problem, such as anxiety, excessive worry or depression?
What’s more, without help, these issues tend to worsen over time and prevent children from reaching their full potential.
But research has shown that resilient children are less likely to suffer such negative effects from stress.
What is resilience and how does it help?
Put simply, resilience is the ability to respond in a positive way to stressful events.
A non-resilient person tends to view a stressful event as traumatic and expects it to have a negative impact.
On the other hand, a resilient person tends to view the same event as an opportunity to learn and grow.
And this simple mindset shift fundamentally changes how people experience stress.
This is a key reason why resilient people suffer less negative effects from stress.
But is it really possible to help children become more resilient?
Although some children are naturally more resilient than others, research has found that it is indeed possible to help children become more resilient.
There are three main ways to help them achieve this.
The first is teaching them the right skills, such as effective coping strategies, problem-solving and emotional regulation.
The second is developing a “growth mindset”, in which they believe in their own ability to improve their skills and abilities with sufficient effort.
(In a “fixed mindset”, children believe their abilities and skills are fixed and cannot be improved, no matter how hard they try.)
And the third is helping parents provide the right support.
It might not always feel like it 🙂 but parents have a huge impact on children’s development – including resilience.
But sometimes, parents (and kids) can benefit from some extra help.
And in those situations we recommend a Resilience-Focused Counselling program.
In this type of counselling, children learn practical “life skills” to help them build resilience and become more confident and capable of handling their everyday challenges.
About those two young boys mentioned at the beginning of this post
They started primary school together and completed VCE together.
They both had similar learning ability and aptitude.
So what made their experiences and outcomes so different?
Skills, knowledge and mindset.
More specifically: Learning the right skills and knowledge, with the right support, and developing a “growth mindset” as early as possible in childhood.