Teaching Our Children to be Resilient

As a teacher at an independent school, I see so often how kids will do almost anything for great grades. They sometimes make great sacrifices, sometimes even sacrificing their health, to ensure they can earn that grade that they perceive will be the difference in getting into the college or university of their choice.

So what happens when the student misses the mark? A range of responses ensue, but what I sometimes see is a tremendous disappointment that can result in depression and despair, especially when it comes to getting denied admission to the top school of their choice.

In these cases, it appears that students may not have been taught how to bounce back from disappointments, to learn how to be resilient.  And I know how that is, because even though I went to the schools of my choice, I’ve experienced tons of disappointments that I let linger in my soul, to the point where I became angry and bitter. And it’s taken a long time to rid myself of that anger and bitterness (ridding myself of the anger and bitterness has been hard; I’m not yet done with that).

What if we were taught how to deal with life’s disappointments before we were adults? What if we learned that there are ups and downs in life, that they are to be expected, and that those downs don’t have to define you, that they don’t have to negatively impact how you interact with others in the world?  What if we learned that, as the late Nelson Mandela mused,

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

~Nelson Mandela

I recently saw a fabulous TED Talk by Educator and Spoken Word Poet Sarah Kay entitled, “If I Should Have a Daughter.” In the poem, she essentially speaks of teaching her daughter (if she had one) how to bounce back from adversity, since it’s a guaranteed part of life. It’s a beautiful piece and performance, one that I will show my daughter, to show her that, as Sarah says,

“You will put the wind in win some, lose some,
You will put the star in starting over, and over,
And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute,
Be sure your mind lands
On the beauty of the funny place called life…”

~ Sarah Kay

Here’s the video.  Let me know what you think.