3 Easy Concepts to Boost Resiliency on Campus

Remember when you tried out for the cheerleading squad and didn’t make the cut or when you got your report card and although you wanted to make it on the honor roll you missed it because of that 77 in Chemistry?

How about when your so-called friend spread a rumor about you? How did you handle that back then? Did you lock yourself in your room and immediately think about self-harm because your soul had been crushed? Did you blast your Chemistry teacher by telling anyone that would listen that she gave you that grade because she has a personal vendetta against you? Did you refuse to come back to school or resort to drug and alcohol abuse because you could not imagine continuing on with life as you knew it?

As a rational, well-adjusted individual you may be thinking that it would be ridiculous to blame the judges or the teacher and that there are lessons to be learned in failure, as well as success. You would also realize that although it does hurt to feel betrayal or heartbreak, you can choose to surround yourself with those who bring value and happiness to your life and that in the end you will survive. That’s why you are such a rockstar counselor, right?!

The sad truth of the matter is that the growth mindset, the one that allows us to learn from mistakes and create a success story in the face of adversity has been lost. Society has taught our youth that “everyone gets a trophy” and that your past dictates your future. The word resiliency is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; having toughness.  Take a look at this article from Psychology Today that brilliantly explains “The Art of Resiliency”.  As educators and counselors we face quite a challenge when it comes to instilling this mental toughness back into our students.  We must find a way to be the catalyst that brings about a resiliency revolution, often facing opposition from social media, peer and parent influence.

Here a 3 easy concepts to implement into your counseling program that can boost resiliency within your students on campus:

1. Promote Perspective

The phrase “that’s not fair” is a very one-sided view that is thrown around often.  In the moment, that student has blinders on to the bigger picture, which hinders them from understanding how they can actually learn and grow from the situation. Make it a goal to include lessons that promote the idea that “Fair isn’t everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need in order to be successful”.  If a student can learn to step outside themselves and look at the situation from another point of view it may allow them to grasp reality and move towards making rational decisions.

2. Create a Plan B

There’s a saying that goes-we don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan.  Encourage your students to take control of their lives and make a plan in regards to academic and relational success. As we all know, life doesn’t always go according to plan.  It is crucial that students have a back up in place so that they don’t allow the bumps in the road to totally derail their lives. The feeling of security that comes along with that Plan B can provide comfort and stability, as well as confidence to handle life’s situations. Here’s a free lesson plan that addresses this strategy.

3. Identify Your Tribe

It has been said that “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”.  Remind your students that although they may feel isolated or the first and only one to be experiencing something at the moment that there are those who are here to support them.  Guide the student through reflection on the people in their lives who can provide positive encouragement and guidance when they are struggling. It may be a parent, friend, teacher, boss, coach, custodian, librarian, etc. The point is to FIND YOUR TRIBE and lean on them in times of despair, rather than shutting down and turning towards things or ideas that can harm us. If you are interested in expanding your own counseling TRIBE and building a culture on campus that develops resilient students take a look at how TEEN TRUTH can assist you in strengthening the social-emotional curriculum within your counseling program.

The reality is that life can be hard and messy and disappointing at times, but the way in which we handle that reality has everything to do with resilience. Our goal as counselors should be to arm our students with the tools necessary to be prepared to face adversity with a positive, growth mindset and to recognize strategies and resources available to move towards success in all areas of life.

Penny Knight
School Counselor, TEEN TRUTH

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