Youth Resilience!

This is the end of the youth series.

To be resilient is one quality that has helped me go through life challenges!

It is a skill that I learnt as I grew older and I know it can make a real change to a young person's success in life.

Resilience creates the ability to cope with uncertainty or sudden change in life. It can support the youth in coping with the unexpected traumatic life events or an unexpected adjustment in lifestyle.

The challenges of life can help young people develop problem solving skills.

Resilience is essential for different reasons, such as protecting young people from some mental health issues, helping the young people have mechanisms for protecting themselves against situations that could be overpowering. It can also help them have a balance during stressful periods such as examination periods or more recently, having to rely on their teacher's assessment / predictions and government algorithms, to calculate the desired grades. When young people have resilience within them, they are able to manage a stressful moments in their lives, reducing the risk of anxiety, depression and therefore preventing further mental health conditions.

Life is full of challenges, allowing young people to develop coping mechanisms which is vital, will help solve the issues they face. The youth should be taught that they are in control of their perception of the circumstances affecting them.

As a parent, I have learnt not to fret at every issue my children bring to my attention but to remain calm and talk through the issues with them. Most times, I give them the opportunity to resolve the problem on their own whilst being present to offer support. When this happens, firstly, my children soon realise the issue is not as serious as they initially thought. Secondly, they learn to cope with the little issues here and there and soon develop "self-efficacy" which is the ability to meet a challenge; believing they can achieve, they too can succeed. When this happens, young people are able to "bounce back" and even recover from any failed project they previously experienced. Mayer, 2010 states that when an individual gains or maintains self-efficacy through the experience of success, no matter how small, they generally get a boost in motivation to continue learning and making progress. When the young are motivated to learn and succeed, they are more likely to achieve their goals which will result in a successful life story. These young people differentiate between the real risk takers, and the ones that rely on comfort. It is worth remembering that risk taking can be rewarding.

How can we support the youth to be more resilient?

1. Building relationships between the young people and adults: Positive and supportive relationships with parents or loved ones can have a positive impact on how the young person deal with problems. It can build a strong emotional connection which can act as an internal control for the young person. The strong relationship with friends and loved ones will later provide a support network to rely on.

Also, seeing adults model these resilient traits is a reminder that they too can do so. I intentionally discuss with my children when I face some challenges at work and how I did not allow it get me down. They are old enough to understand and have listened to my stories of how I overcame obstacles in the workplace or life in general in order to achieve my goals. They too can do the same; learn how to develop resilience in order to cope with any challenge they may experience.

2. Teach them the ability to monitor and regulate their emotions: The way an issue is perceived can affect the level of resilience. Do the young people see an event as devastating or as an opportunity? Do they respond in a reactive or passive manner?

The youth should learn not to take every mistake too harshly but to seek learning opportunities from the mistakes they have made. The recent phrase I often hear my children use on the phone to their friend is "it is not that deep" meaning, it is not that serious, get over it! This can change the perception of their story.

Young people who exaggerate events in their minds to make the issues sound bigger than they really are, give the impression of "the worst case scenario". This will make them experience the events as the "worst thing that happened" and allow them dwell on it. They should be encouraged to exert some internal control, with the mindset that they can cope with the challenges they are experiencing. That way, they will be able to show some resilience rather than allowing the external forces to "squash" them up. They can perceive that they were in charge of the outcome and not the situations affecting them. They are in control. One emotion I have learnt to practice is "joy", pushing myself to see the glass half full. By living a life of gratitude, I am able to remain joyful even when my circumstance dictate I should behave otherwise. My faith has been my anchor as I hold on to the fact that the "joy of the Lord is my strength"!

3. Promote opportunities to develop skills for adapting to the environment: The youth can be encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them or to learn to cope with the consequences. Organisations should support the youth through investing in them and their communities. This would produce better health, education and livelihoods. A holistic approach to the development of the youth in adapting to environmental changes, is essential.

4 Encourage regular physical exercise: This will help control stress more easily. The more stronger the youth feels emotionally and physically, the better and easier it will be to resist challenges. Henceforth they will be more motivated to overcome challenges, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual.

5. Teach Problem Solving Skills:

The youth should learn how to practice solving a problem which involves:

a) Defining the issue i.e what is the goal and what is stopping you from reaching the goal

b) Have a plan on how to deal with it. This involves speaking to the right people e.g family, friends, loved ones, colleagues - communication always helps to recognise some points that were not initially identified.

c) Put the plan into action.

d) Check that the result works. The first plan may not solve the problem in one go and may require several attempts. Youths should be reminded to never give up until the problem has been solved.

6. Embrace Mistakes:

The young people should remember that everybody makes mistakes and they should not dwell on the mistakes. They should be willing to learn from them, come up with fresh ideas and be willing to start again. Thomas J Watson states that "the only way to succeed is to double your error rate".

How resilient are you?

What type of support do you think is needed to promote resilience?

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