How to teach children resilience.
Life can hand out a lot of lemons. The younger a child learns to make lemonade out of them, the more lemonade stands he'll profit from.
Two of the greatest qualities a person can develop are tenacity and resilience. They are the force that gets you back on the horse when you've been bucked off. They are the willpower behind playing another game when you just struck out... again. They are also the power to see lemonade in a pile of sour lemons... and then see how to use what you've been handed for your gain.
As teachers and parents we hate to see our little guys in pain. We know how cruddy it feels and in our compassion we can rob a child of their ability to develop their "staying" power by countering the situation through our means. Children need to learn how to flip their own situations, and they learn that through little falls and bumps and bruises along the way.
Happy, healthy schools do not cater to entitlement or victimization but instead create paths for achievement. For example, Championeers! provides a motto bracelet as an instant win for every child when they get their leadership pack. Children are then awarded a participation dog tag for being part of the program, but only those who do the work can earn their stickers and only those who complete all their stickers can earn an honor pin. It's a step-by-step pathway to success that's baited with mini-successes throughout. The more a child wins, the more he wants to win.
If we give every child an Honor pin we cheat them out of learning how to earn things and how to keep going even when it's hard.
There are many complicated issues in our culture right now that do cater to entitlement and victimization, but you can create a counter-culture on your campus by creating paths for success. Everyone can definitely have a participation award, but include a bigger ultimate prize for children to aspire to with a clear, step-by-step path for any of them to achieve. (Note: The surest way to create entitlement and victimization is to have one prize that only one child gets. All those who worked so hard receive nothing but a lot of hard work. Are you hearing me? Teach your students that they can reach their goals then reward them when they do.)
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