Our sense of community and culture is such a strong aspect here at Girls Grammar. The delayed commencement of the school year has not only affected teaching and learning but also many of the events that we pride ourselves on in celebrating and in welcoming the start of a new year.
Typically, this would have been our third week back at school, providing a greater length of time to organise, plan and communicate the COVID-safe events happening this week. Considering the circumstances and the short time frame of only a week to prepare, this week’s Valentine’s Day and Library Lovers Day were a great success. Our Prefects and Year 12s who led the organisation and communication school wide should be commended on what they achieved in such a short time frame.
I am sure we can all relate to occasions where we had planned for an event or occasion and an unforeseen obstacle has prevented this from becoming reality. Your plans had to change, or you experienced additional pressures to execute an adjusted version of what you had hoped to achieve. It is moments like these that show our character, problem-solving skills, flexibility and strength and how we can overcome these obstacles that are just a part of what ‘life’ throws at us.
This leads me to the topic of resilience, and what I mean by this is our girls’ ability to cope with life’s ups and downs. It encompasses how they deal with the challenges they might face including during unforeseen events such as COVID-19 and the flow on effect this has had in many aspects of their lives. Resilience is an important trait for everyone, and an essential one for our children to develop. Research confirms that resilience creates happier, less stressed children whether this is at home, school, during cocurricular activities and in other environments.
Awareness of resilience from a young age is so important for our girls’ mental health. It is a concept that is taught to our students from Prep through our School’s pastoral care program as it is a life skill that they will take with them through adolescence and into adulthood. Learning about resilience and its importance will help our girls’ overcome obstacles much like those we have been experiencing and reduces the chances of them suffering from anxiety or other stress-related disorders.
Building resilience in girls in particular can be a challenge. Research shows that self-esteem tends to plummet for girls at about age 12. As parents, we can promote resilience in the following ways:
Encourage a growth mindset. When young girls are encouraged to believe that they can overcome obstacles through hard work and trying new ideas they learn to turn “I can’t” statements into “I can’t yet, but” statements. In adding those two words, girls can turn a negative into a positive and begin to understand that learning is a process that takes time and practice. Just because they haven’t met a goal yet doesn’t mean that goal is unattainable.
Nurture capability. It’s perfectly natural for young girls to experience frustration when confronted with challenges, just as it is for any child or adult. It’s important to remind girls of their past successes in overcoming obstacles. When girls learn to look to the past to consider how they overcame challenges, it helps build their strength to confront future challenges.
Teach mindfulness. Mindful people are better able to cope with difficult thoughts, emotions and challenges without becoming completely overwhelmed.
Teach self-care. Self-care is often discussed in the context of adults, but it’s imperative for young girls to understand how practicing self-care helps them become more resilient. When girls are well-rested and less stressed, they are better prepared to handle difficult challenges.
Model time management and problem solving skills. Girls are more resilient when they feel that they can solve their own problems and manage their own time. To that end, it’s important to stop fixing everything and micromanaging. Teach your daughter how to overcome challenges by modeling effective problem-solving skills. Help your daughter learn to manage her own time and complete her own projects by teaching her to use calendars and timers and to set goals. If you model it and talk about it, she can learn it.
Increase meaningful social connections. Building close friendships creates a support network and increases resilience because girls know they are not alone. Talking with your daughter about empathy, compassion and how to be a good friend will help strengthen social connections.
Asking for help. It is important for children to know that asking for help is okay too, whether this is from a parent, teacher or trusted friend as this helps in developing self-esteem and resilience.