Research Image - Building resilience in kids

Published on May 2nd, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books


Can we build a better child?

Jill Stark | The Age

There’s now a fourth R in education: Resilience.

It is a hot, dry Tuesday afternoon in a country Victorian classroom. As they do every day, the children of 4D are talking about their feelings.

Nine-year-old Evie Kuchel is feeling confident and enthusiastic. Looking at her ”mood meter”, she gauges she is a 3+ for energy and a 2+ for feelings. On the chart, divided into red, yellow, blue and green quadrants, she plots herself in the yellow. But not every day is like today. If school’s been tough or someone’s been mean to her, she might find herself in the blue. If she is feeling particularly chilled out, she could be green. Sometimes, it is the opposite.

”On the weekend, I was in the red because my sister was trying to fight with me and I had to stop and go to my room and think about my best self. Then I came out and I said sorry, to be the bigger person, even though she’s bigger than me,” she giggles. ”You’ve got a right to feel angry, but you shouldn’t react to it. You should apply some strategies.’’

When classmate Isabelle Shoebridge feels that sensation in her body – a tingling in the fingers or a twisting in the tummy – that puts her in the red, she has learnt to take a ‘‘meta moment’’ – a short pause of emotional recognition.

Visualising how she would react if she was her ‘‘best self’’ – a collection of words such as patient, kind, caring, sincere and considerate, that she feels describe her at her best – helps her calm down. And then she takes action. ‘‘I just breathe and try to think of a suggestion to get me into the yellow or the green. My main strategies are to drink more water or have something to eat, because I can get angry when I’m hungry.’’

Evie and Isabelle, like their grade 4 classmates at Girton Grammar in Bendigo, are emotionally intelligent children. They are among a new wave of young people with arguably a greater grasp of the full human experience than their own parents. This emotionally literate generation is being explicitly taught to be mindful and resilient – lessons previously learnt, or not, by the hard knocks of life. And their level of self-awareness is extraordinary.


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