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Schools are introductions to the reality of the world in which children will later have to make their way.

At school, children have to make sense of their interactions with each other and with a set of adults in authority who are not their parents.

It is a different set of skills than exercised within the family home, and it is importantly educative for that reason. Self-esteem and emotional security – what we call resilience – arises over time from a number of sources and experiences.

It is gained incrementally as we interact with our environment over time. One of the principal vectors for developing resilience is responsibility-taking and all that goes with it. Psychologists are now finding links between too great an emphasis on praise (for praise sake), as opposed to reinforcement for what a child actually does, with increasing rates of depression and other personal problems.

This reinforces our constant message to parents, to start allowing your child to take real reasponsibility for the little things in their lives - packing and carrying their school bag, making their bed, drying the dishes, etc....and to facing up to the consequences of when they get it wrong.

Although in themselves small things, the responsibility, the task itself and the consequence of making a mistake, incrementally allow your child to develop the mindset that is necessary to become an adult with a problem-solving, positive, optimistic approach to the issues that life brings to everyone.

Children with over-anxious parents who do everything for them are likely to develop learned helplessness, to learn to avoid taking responsibility, to develop depression and anti-social tendencies and/or to find adolescent particularly problematic.

Start today.

Resilience-building 101
Congratulations to all families of Year 4 & 5 pupils who have adapted their family routines to facilitate the pupils taking themselves and their gear into school without daily parental assistance.

It is a small thing, but as a daily event with all sorts of add-on requirements such as maintaining a checking routine and taking responsibility for gear left at home, it is a significant builder of the subconscious attitudes of self-confidence, self-esteem and resilience.

It is our experience that it is actually the adults involved who need most encouragement to allow pupils the opportunity to take up these important life skills at this age. In a time where media reports can easily induce a desire to be overly protective of our children, there is even greater need for the building of these life skills; here is the opportunity. Year 6 - 8 should not require any assistance in this regard.

Resilience-building 201
Reslience is a vital life skill. Psychologists are increasingly willing to acknowledgie the role that resilience plays in helping young adults cope with the pressures of adolescence.

Resilience is something that develops gradually over time and requires the active involvement of the adults in a child's life working deliberately to develop that resilience.

Resilience includes knowing how to keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook. Even when your child is facing events that may be hurtful or unpleasant, help him/her look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Your child is almost certain to react to events from a egocentric viewpoint and needs an adult to provide more positive, alternative viewpoints.

Although your child may be too young to consider a long-term outlook on his/her own, help him/her see that there is a future beyond the current situation and that the future can be good. An optimistic and positive outlook enables your child to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times.

In terms of events at school, some of which will inevitably be negative as children in the process of being socialised come up against each other and against behavioural boundaries set by the school, use your child's own life history to show that life moves on after bad events.

Time to start to get off the bridge
Celia Lashlie has coined the expression "the bridge of adolescence" as being a metaphor for the transition that boys go through as they move from boyhood to manhood. If you have yet to read her book "He'll Be OK" then you probably are making the parenting mistakes highlighted in her research into what makes gorgeous boys grow into good men.

Celia has an important but different message for mothers and fathers, and it is one that all parents should listen to. Consider this quote: "We women aren't letting our boys learn about action and consequence because we keep interfering in the process. We must do so (avoid interfering) if they're to have any chance of a successful and enjoyable life."

Although Celia's work has been focused on adolescent children, many of the concerns can be seen emerging much earlier. In Year 4, it's time to stop carrying his bag so he can take responsibility for it....and that applies to girls as well.

A copy of Celia's book is available for loan from Malcolm Long. It's an easy, quick, life-changing read!

Teaching Children to Effectively Manage Change
When a child is anticipating a change in her/his life, the adults around the child should send consistent, positive messages.

Our messages need to be:


  • Change is good.
  • Change provides opportunities for growth.
  • Anticipating change is natural.
  • Everything will turn out well.
  • You can successfully manage this change.
  • We each choose how we respond to change.

Your child will no doubt at some point express concern or perhaps worry over an upcoming change. It is important to first validate that feeling. “I understand how you may be feeling. I remember feeling a bit nervous before I ….” Or perhaps, “I know what you mean. Sometimes I have a few butterflies in my stomach before ….”

Regardless of how minor the situation may seem to you, from your child’s perspective it may not be minor and her/his feelings are genuine. Respecting your child’s feelings and assuring her/him that it is acceptable and natural to experience such feelings is important and builds trust between you.

The second message you send your child should be that s/he will successfully manage the change, and everything will turn out well. “Of course, it will be different from… but you will enjoy having… (more responsibility, different children in your class, a new way to look at …).”

Showing your child that you are confident s/he will be all right will give her/him confidence. One final point to make with your child is that we all choose how we respond to change. We can approach a new situation with a positive attitude and make an effort to apply ourselves, managing the circumstances to the best of our ability.

Alternatively, we can be pessimistic in our approach to a change. Encouraging your child to develop and maintain an optimistic approach will also help develop his/her resilience.