I’m thinking about resilience today and what that might mean for children going back to school on March 8th. I know from those I’ve talked to that whilst they so want to see their friends, they want things to be normal. They want it to feel familiar and match their expectations. They want it to be similar to what they remember. This is what we call ‘match’ when we want things to be the same. Children who seek similarity, look for it and will notice what they want to find and may miss difference because they are not looking for it. They will spot their friends, their teachers and although they will be wearing masks, they are focusing on what’s similar. They are resilient until ‘mismatch’ may be unavoidable because perhaps a teacher has changed, there may be new procedures, a new classroom, different arrangements and new signage. They are less resilient now and need to reframe. Parents can prepare them by warning them that although most things will be the same, some things will be different and that difference is OK.

Empower Your Kids

Empower Your Kids

Remind them of perhaps a holiday where they tried new foods, or heard a foreign language, different customs. Remind them that everything is different to begin with but will soon become familiar. Show them how they themselves are different now to how they were a year ago, they have new tastes and preferences in music maybe, new clothes, new hairstyle, new friends. The idea is to normalise difference and take the fear out of it.

If you have a ‘mismatch’ child, one who likes to disagree, point out what’s wrong and notice difference, they will focus on what’s changed and what is new. There may be some things that are new in a good way and things that are the same that they don’t like. Mismatch children can seem to find fault and spot what’s wrong. Their pattern is ‘yes but…’ so whatever reassurance you might give them about going back to school, there will be something that still isn’t right. Remind them that the differences they will see are all for a good reason and the things that are the same are also for a good reason. All will be well and they can trust the school to be following the guidelines to keep your child safe.

Children will be more resilient when parents are. They model you. Knowing how they think, whether they are looking for sameness or difference will enable you to reassure them. Listen to their words and ask them questions such as:

- How great will it be to be back at school?

- How much are you looking forward to seeing your friends?

- How much fun will it be back at school again?

These are all ‘towards’ questions where we assume a positive result and focus on what they want rather than what they don’t want.

Avoid phrases like:

- Don’t worry

This has the opposite effect than the one you intend. The brain struggles with the word ‘don’t’ and your instruction becomes ‘worry’!

Resilience is about ‘bouncing back’ feeling that ‘I can’ feeling - ‘I will’ - and accessing that problem-solving mind where they can overcome obstacles, so have a chat with them about how great they are at that. Remind them of when they have been resilient, when they have overcome difficulties and bounced back. Send them back to school with a ‘can do’ attitude.