How are you? Genuine question by the way…how are you doing, feeling, thinking, and being at the moment?
We tend to think of childhood as a carefree time and that as adults we should be able to cope. But in difficult periods or times of change it’s not unusual to react and behave in ways that aren’t usual for us – whatever our age.
We know that deaf people can experience social and emotional difficulties that can stem from feelings of exclusion, isolation and frustration experienced in everyday life. And as deaf children grow up, they may encounter negative attitudes or obstacles which can affect their self-esteem.
Some of these factors may be exacerbated by the current lockdown and social distancing measures in place for our protection.
Our ability to survive and thrive, despite these challenges, stems from resilience.
What is resilience?
When we think of resilience, we often think of words like:
- being strong
- bouncing back
- being optimistic
Or perhaps definitions like these:
“The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”
““The ability to be happy, successful, healthy or strong again after something difficult or bad has happened.”
“An ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
Nature or nurture?
When we consider resilient people, we often talk about their attitude and mindset:
- having a clear sense of direction
- being driven or motivated
- not letting things get in their way
- be able to bounce back when things go wrong
But are we born resilient or do we become resilient over time? The truth is, it’s a bit of both:
- Some are born with abilities or traits associated with greater resilience
- Others are more vulnerable to adversity and may be less likely to be resilient
- Many qualities associated with resilience develop through our life experience
The good news is that resilience can be learned at any age!
6 ways to boost your resilience
Research has identified some key factors that help us all become more resilient:
- Sense of purpose
- Positive mental attitude
- Connecting with others
- Taking control
- Looking after yourself
Sense of purpose
The current situation is likely to have disrupted everyday activities and made goals seems rather remote, perhaps even unattainable for the moment. Finding or redefining your sense of purpose in uncertain times will give you something to focus on and create a strong foundation for becoming more resilient.
Positive mental attitude
It’s important to strike a balance between thinking positively about your current situation while remaining realistic about what can be achieved and not creating unreasonable expectations. This isn’t about false optimism or being naïve but being willing and able to see the positive side of things.
Connecting with others
Social distancing makes this more challenging but certainly not impossible. In times of uncertainty it’s more important than ever to build and nurture supportive and caring relationships. Asking for help when you need it is not a weakness. Offering appropriate help and support to others can boost your wellbeing and resilience too.
If you’re missing your Lollipop pals and feeling the isolation effects of lockdown why not get in touch with someone to cheer each other up? Email us to find out about Lollipop’s pen pal club (open to children, young people and adults). And remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram too!
When faced with challenges or setbacks, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, to put things off, or feel like giving up altogether. The stronger your sense of purpose, the more open you will be to exploring new ways of doing things. Try to focus on the things you can do something about and always make full use of the help and support available.
Take a moment to notice how you think, feel, react and respond in different situations and try to develop positive patterns for dealing with challenges and setbacks. Take responsibility for your own actions but also recognise and let go of those things that are beyond your control or influence.
Looking after yourself
Stress has a big impact on resilience so it’s essential to look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally to put yourself in the best possible position to deal with whatever life throws at you. This includes eating healthily, taking exercise and finding ways to relax and unwind so you can approach difficult situations more calmly and clearly.
If you need any help or support as a deaf parent or parent of a deaf child, don’t forget you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resilience in children and young people
The six factors above could apply to anyone of any age but Dr Ginsburg (author of ‘Building Resilience in Children and Teens’) has identified seven “Cs” of resilience designed specifically to help children and young people recognise their inner abilities and resources.
The feeling of knowing that they can handle a situation effectively. We can help them develop this by focusing on their individual strengths, empowering them to make decisions, treating mistakes as learning opportunities, avoiding being overprotective and not comparing them to others.
Boost a child’s belief in their abilities by focusing on their positive qualities (such as fairness, integrity, persistence and kindness), recognising when they have done well, giving honest praise for specific achievements, and avoiding pushing them to take on more than they can realistically handle.
Close family and community ties create a sense of physical safety and emotional security. Help young people connect with others by encouraging them to express how they feel, by resolving conflicts openly, and by promoting relationships that reinforce positive messages.
Our staff and volunteers are missing your friendly faces and are keen to hear how you’ve been getting on these last few weeks. Our usual activities are on hold for the moment but we’d love members to join us at Lollipop HQ Online! Email email@example.com to find out more or use the email link previously circulated to sign up.
Help young people to develop strong morals, values and a sense of identity. Demonstrate the importance of community, encourage them to see themselves as caring individuals, and help them to understand how their words and behaviours can positively or negatively affect others.
Children need to realise that the world is a better place because they are in it and that everyone’s circumstances are different. Modelling generosity and creating opportunities for children and young people to contribute in some specific way can be a great source of purpose and motivation.
Like many charities, Lollipop have had to cancel all our upcoming fundraising events as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Consider supporting those charities close to your heart through donating or taking part in the 2.6 challenge?
Learning to cope with stress effectively helps you be better prepared to overcome life’s challenges. Model positive coping strategies, guide rather than tell young people what to do, understand why they may sometimes adopt negative coping strategies, and avoid blaming or shaming them if they do.
Our deaf mentors are positive deaf role models who can help prepare members for adult life and further education. They can support those who may have difficulty interacting or making friends, or who need emotional support during difficult periods or times of change. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org
Empower young people by helping them to understand that life’s events are not purely random and that they can make a positive difference to their own life. Children who see that their choices and actions have consequences are more likely to recognise that they have the ability to bounce back.
Top tips for building resilience in children and young people
- Make connections – with family, friends, and the wider community
- Help them to help others – through everyday tasks or volunteer work
- Maintain a daily routine – younger children crave structure, encourage older children to create their own
- Take a break – from work, news, the internet, anything that is worrying them
- Teach self-care – make time to eat properly, exercise, rest and have fun!
- Move towards goals – one step at a time with praise along the way
- Nurture a positive self-view – help them learn to trust themselves, find solutions, make decisions, handle their emotions and see the humour in life
- Maintain perspective and a positive outlook – help them see that life moves on and there can be a positive future beyond the current situation
- Let them make mistakes – failure is not the end of the world, it’s an opportunity to learn and improve
- Accept that change is part of life – it needn’t be something to fear – change is an opportunity to grow and to replace old goals with new ones
- Don’t accommodate every need – overprotecting children fuels their anxiety and prevents them learning how to solve their own problems
- Avoid eliminating all risk – giving young people age-appropriate freedom helps them learn their own limits
- Teach problem-solving – engage them in working out how they can handle challenges – ask ‘how’ not ‘why’ and give them plenty of opportunities to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Activities you can do together
Children are more likely to thrive when they know that there’s an adult in their life who believes in them and loves them unconditionally. You can help build your child’s confidence and resilience by:
Listing the good things
Sit with your child and ask them to write, say or sign their answers to the following questions:
- What is unique about me?
- What are my special gifts and talents?
- What do I like about myself?
- What am I happy about?
Finding a hobby
Evidence shows that participation in activities, hobbies and social clubs promotes resilience. For deaf children, excelling at an activity that doesn’t rely too heavily on oral communication, such as cycling, photography, dancing, gardening, cookery, or art, can help to boost confidence.
Giving children responsibility for tasks and showing that you trust them to complete them, can help them become more independent – anything from helping in the kitchen to looking after their own hearing equipment. Age-appropriate goals, praise and rewards will help create motivation, pride and a sense of purpose.
Every day, encourage your child to think about, write or draw three things (big or small) that they are grateful for. You can go first to give them an example. This will help remind them (and you) that even when life seems challenging and uncertain, there are plenty of things to be thankful for.
Resilience helps young people deal with the trials, tribulations and triumphs of childhood and adolescence and go on to become resilient adults. But we’re all individuals – there’s no “one size fits all” solution to guarantee resilience in every situation.
What we do know is that through membership and engagement with Lollipop we can continue to help deaf children, young people and families stay connected and support one another in being more confident, self-assured and resilient.
- Managing Resilience in Difficult Times: Cranfield Trust Webinar
- Youth Mental Health First Aid: MHFA England Course Manual
- Developing Positive Self-Esteem: National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS)
- Resilience – What it is and how children and young people can be helped to develop it: CYC-online journal for those who live or work with Children and Young People