As we have started to settle from another lockdown our focus has been on children's resilience and how they have had to be incredibly resilient over the past 12 months.
What we are starting to notice is some children's resilience is starting to suffer now as a result of the isolation of COVID and we are having to carefully look at how we are supporting this.
What is resilience?
The DFE define resilience as:
'Resilience is described as the capacity to ‘bounce back’ from adverse experiences, and succeed despite adversity. Adversity can be defined as a lack of positive circumstances or opportunities, partly brought about by physical, mental or social losses or deprivation, or the experience of trauma. Resilience has been defined as the ‘opposite’ of vulnerability. Some research characterises resilient individuals as having average or expected outcomes; others emphasise flourishing (i.e. doing better than average).'
COVID is definitely an adverse experience and children will have had different emotional responses to the lockdowns and isolation.
How are we supporting resilience?
Our starting point is to work closely with children and identify who requires support with their resilience. It will not be everyone and it will not be a big group of children as every child will have a different reaction to their COVID experience.
We know that children have strong resilience if they:
- Feel welcome
- Feel safe
- Are emotionally open, curious and interested
- Experience relationships built on trust with each other
- Grow and develop through learning
If we feel that any of these are not met then we will notice that our own and children's resilience is not as strong as it could be.
Once we identify any children who require support with resilience we look at what area children may need support with.
We have focused heavily on building relationships with children and supporting them with this to enable them to feel safe and feel that they have relationships built on trust.
We go back to this phrase often; 'Every interaction is an intervention'. We know spotting a child who is struggling emotionally and having an initial conversation to discuss how they are feeling and understanding this can be the most powerful tool. It enables that child to unpick what they are feeling and to be able to work through this with an adult together which can help instantly rather than waiting for a structured intervention.
Where we feel children require a more structured approach, we have purchased a new part of our JIGSAW PSHE programme that is linked to resilience and measures where a child is with their resilience and works as a whole school approach to improving resilience. We identify children who we will assess using this and will use this intervention to support them further.
How to support at home?
Listening to your child is the best way. By listening to their concerns these can be addressed and supported. Support can be found here
Within this resource a fantastic idea is emotion coaching which is outlined below.
The five steps of emotion coaching
1. Be Aware:
a. To support your child with emotion coaching, you need to start observing, listening and
learning how your child expresses different feelings and emotions.
b. Watch for changes in their facial expression, body language, posture, and tone of voice.
c. Set a good example by talking about feelings and emotions in order to help children build a
vocabulary of different feelings.
d. Encourage children to talk about their feelings and emotions.
2. Connect with your child:
a. You can use emotional moments as opportunities to connect with your child
b. Allow your child to have their feelings without dismissing, disapproving or avoiding.
c. All feelings are okay, but not all behaviour is okay.
3. Listen and tune-in to your child:
a. Your child will feel more secure when they are allowed to express their feelings.
b. Take time to stop, breathe and get curious.
c. Tune-in to the feelings underneath your child’s behaviour.
d. Take 5 long slow breaths to help you feel calm.
e. Check what’s going on for you. Has your child’s behaviour touched a nerve for you? Has it
made you feel frustrated? Angry? Scared? Helpless?
4. Name your child’s feelings out loud:
a. Your child will feel more secure when their feelings are heard.
b. Naming emotions helps to soothe and regulate your child’s brain.
c. Ask, rather than telling, them how they are feeling. If they’re not sure, offer suggestions for
them to consider.
5. Set limits and problem solve together:
a. You can allow all of your child’s feelings while still setting clear limits on behaviour.
b. Corrections should only be put in place when feelings have been acknowledged and when everyone is calm.
c. Where possible involve your child in problem solving, especially as they get older.
d. Think ahead about tricky and potentially overwhelming situations and be prepared to
help child through them.
If you have any concerns with your child's emotional wellbeing and resilience please contact your child's class teacher.