The Elms is a very happy and positive experience to work in, for staff, as well as for children. The staff work very hard to make each and every day enjoyable and interesting, but as all parents know, sometimes things happen that affect that positive outlook on life.
We hope, that for children at least, these set-backs are minor and do not negatively affect their outlook on life. Children are emotionally vulnerable, but it is important that as teachers and parents we do understand that moments of disappointment, upset and frustration can be used as positive learning experiences for children. Children will faces challenges in life as they move into adulthood and there is a great deal of concern that modern lives, including our children’s exposure to social media, places them under more stress and scrutiny than we had to endure during our childhood.
So how do we teach emotional resilience?
In a nut-shell, we allow children to experience ‘failure’ and ‘stress’ in a controlled environment.
Sport is a good vehicle through which children can experience success, and indeed failure. We give our children the opportunity to play and enjoy, to lose, to miss that goal, and to not be selected for the A team.
We give a child who has not done their homework the ‘opportunity’ to be told off by their class teacher at school and to be in ‘trouble’, rather than get stressed as a parent and make excuses on our child’s behalf.
We encourage our children to try out new experiences, like staying away from home for the first time on a residential visit and understand that the first night might be a worry for some children (and parents).
We give our children strategies for making new friends and for dealing with fall-outs, understanding that it takes two to fall out, and that not all children can be best friends.
Having a family pet can also be a good way of encouraging children to consider more than just their own needs, as well as giving children experience of caring for a sick animal and indeed, the opportunity to experience loss through the death of a much loved pet.
And with social media, when children are ‘un-friended’, ‘ignored’ and not ‘liked’, we encourage them to use the ‘delete’ or the ‘off’ button and realise that the number of on-line ‘friends’ on Facebook or similar has very little to do with real life.
To teach our children to deal with life’s disappointments as well as life’s joys is all part of growing up into a well-balanced adult. And learning to like ourselves, and not just worry about what other people think of us, is equally important when developing children’s emotional resilience and mental well-being.
To quote from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”, we must teach out children to
“meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;”