Resilience – an important product of social emotional learning. Positive Psychology describes resilience as the ability to “bounce back” after a challenging situation. Very Well Mind notes that people with resilience tend to SEL skills to cope and recover from life’s challenges and hardships (such as divorce, failure, illness, and job loss) instead of falling into a state of despair or disappointment. Resilience is such an important skill to have as we never know when we might face one of life’s challenges.

Here are some skills of a resilient person:

  • Effective emotional regulation skills
  • Ability to create and fulfill realistic plans
  • Problem solving skills
  • Self-compassion
  • Social supports
  • Ability to recognize and communicate emotions
  • Skills to regulate stress and anxiety

SEL skills such as emotional regulation, communication skills, and the ability to regulate stress help make a more resilient individual, but there are other factors that influence resilience. According to Harvard, having a caring relationship with an adult, parent, or caregiver provides the scaffolding that children need to be resilient adults. Resilience is also built on the foundation of practicing stress management – remember, not all stress is bad. An example of this “positive stress” – as Harvard calls it – is when children are expected to try their homework on their own before a parent or caregiver jumps in to help them. However, allowing children to experience “positive stress” is just as important to have a supportive environment. 

Just like any other aspect of SEL, anyone can build resilience and it needs to be practiced. One important way for you to help your child and/or student to practice resilience is to help them set SMART goals, which are then celebrated once achieved. Edutopia explains that a SMART goal is one that is: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; and Timely. An example of a SMART goal would be: “during math class I will take notes, raise my hand at least once per class to answer a question, and will make sure to ask questions when I am confused; this way I will be more prepared for the next math test.” Instead of a vague and general goal of “I will do better in math” or “I will do better on my next math test.” Having the ability to create a SMART goal sets the student up for future resilience, as they are able to see ways in which they can move forward through tough situations. 

Along with practicing SMART goals, Edutopia also notes the importance of experiencing “positive stress” or taking responsible risks – such as taking an AP course in high school regardless of knowing if you will be prepared or “smart enough.” The article also notes that recognizing and labeling difficult and complicated emotions is an important part of resilience. This important SEL skill helps build resilience as once you recognize and label the emotion, you can practice managing that emotion. 

Positive Psychology notes the importance of teaching resilience in classrooms through strength-based modeling. Practicing a strength based approach in a classroom provides positive support to all students allowing them to see their self-worth. This also allows the students to practice self-compassion, which is another important base for building resilience. 

Remember, resilience is an important part of SEL – practice is encouraged for all ages!

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