Recently our Year 11 students finished their Preliminary HSC course and are now embarking on their final year of school life. So from now on I will refer to them as Year 12 and what an outstanding group they are. Last week our Year 12 attended their Retreat. The overwhelming feedback from students has been positive. The opportunity to step away from everyday life and take time to reflect on ourselves and our faith is immeasurably important and one that most of us struggle to do. This time is so important for our students as they begin their final 4 terms of a 13 year journey. It is always wonderful to hear about deepening friendships and the forging of new ones through this experience. Our senior retreat is not only a highlight, but one that makes a significant impact on student’s faith journey. I thank Mr Paton for his organisation, Mr Bonora and Mr Moussa for being there all week and for all the teachers that have given up their time to accompany and work with our students.
I often find myself grappling with the level of anxiety in young people today and their decreasing lack of resilience. I was recently reading an article from the Centre for Parent and Teen Communication that discussed resilience and what as parents and adults we can do.
As parents we are always driven to protect our children. We want them to be happy, to feel safe, connected and valued. Given a choice we would bubble wrap them, but of course that is not possible. We can however, prepare them to navigate their world. We can support them to develop the character strengths and human connections that allow them to thrive in good times and rebound (maybe even grow) in challenging times. In other words, we can build their resilience.
Resilience is better than bubble wrap because it is about developing their internal strength, giving them the tools. Resilience is often referred to as the process of bouncing back, of learning and growing in our capacity to handle the next bump in the road, that as we know as adults is inevitable.
However, the same skills and characteristics that allow us to bounce back from difficult times are the same skills and characteristics that will help us get the most out of our lives. To become the best version of ourselves. Dr Ann Masten a leader in this field, says resilience is not something you are born with. Instead, it is something that can be built and nurtured as a part of development, describing it as ordinary magic. She underscores resilience is not about extraordinary events or heroic measures. Rather, resilience is built when we’re offered meaningful support and love from others. Young people grow to be resilient when there’s at least one adult (more is better!) loving them unconditionally and supporting them to be their best selves by holding them to high expectations.
Loving them unconditionally means that your presence has to be unwavering and reliable. We don’t have to approve everything they do, defend behaviours or actions we know are wrong. What we say is less important than how we listen, or that our kids know we stand by their side no matter what. We communicate with our presence, a solid commitment to making sure they’ll get through challenges.
High expectations are not about getting an A, scoring goals or winning. We know our children, we know their strengths, we know what good character is. We are clear about them, we recognise and celebrate them. These are the things we set high expectations of, that we hold them accountable to, the best versions of themselves.
Resilience doesn’t mean invulnerability, vulnerability is a part of being human, of being in relationship with others, that is part of living, in all it’s messiness. Our goal is not to suppress or deny emotions, but to nurture and teach resilience in a variety of ways, including when we model coping strategies in stressful situations. We model resilience when we choose healthy coping strategies. Or when we keep things in perspective, and grow from life’s challenges.
Some elements of resilience are best learned through experience. Sometimes we have to learn for ourselves and hopefully grow stronger and wiser through that experience. We can as adults support resilience when we allow for mistakes and recovery within safe boundaries. And when we act as a non-judgemental sounding board as our young people learn through experiences.
What to say (and not say) to Encourage Teen Problem Solving
Treating teens as experts in their own lives empowers them to build skills needed to solve problems. Trust in their abilities. Here are some suggestions to build your “Language of Resilience”, remembering it is always OK when they get stuck to ask “Is it okay if I make a suggestion?”
Talk to young people about what they know, not what they don’t. Say this “Tell me what you understand” Not that: “You are too young to understand”
Talk about their perspective, not yours. Say this “What do you think about the situation, what advice would you give to others in the same situation?” Not that: “I think you should handle the situation this way”.
Talk about their needs, not yours. Say this “How can I support you to handle it?” Not That “I need you to handle this now or I’ll handle this for you”.
Talk about their problem solving not your solutions. Say this “What ideas do you have to improve your grade?” No that “ You just need to study more”.
We are always here to support you in navigating the journey through the teenage years and high school. Always remember our counsellors are also great resources.
Our final P&F meeting for the year is next Wednesday evening in the staff lunch room. We would love to see you there.
Mrs Angela Hay