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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

August 11, 2020

Health and Wellness Tidbits from the Stress and Resilience Team: Revealing Resilience – Modeling Resilience for Young People

Submitted by Elaine Johannes

This is the second in a three-part series about Revealing Resilience among young people through adversity and uncertainty.

It’s an especially hard time now since schools are reopening with different schedules, teaching configurations and challenges for the fall semester. Parents, teachers, and caring adults are concerned about the well-being and safety of children as they prepare to physically go back into classrooms that will look, feel and function differently. For the children who remain home as school gets underway, will they become anxious and dismayed about missing the social aspects that come with being in school or will they excel academically without social distractions? How does a parent deal with these and other unknowns? What could help an adolescent move forward with confidence during uncertain times? One thing is certain, young people are adaptable and can adjust to situations if they have models that demonstrate adaptability and resilience when times are hard. It’s important that adults demonstrate resilience, discuss how they’re feeling and seek meaning when feelings of fear, frustration, anger are mixed with grief for what “used to be.” Making meaning helps us cope with the what we’re experiencing now and the grief that is felt for the old, once familiar patterns of each day. Dr. Alexander Chan, of the University of Maryland Extension, offers the following strategies for how adults can model resilience for young people in the midst of grief and uncertainty -

• Talk about how you want to emerge from this crisis: What will it say about you that you lived through the pandemic? Will you have developed new habits or ways of appreciation about daily life?

• Acknowledge and show support for others’ efforts to cope: People find meaning in different ways which might not be something you would do. That’s okay. Pushing through adversity and revealing resilience is a unique, lifelong endeavor.

• Show acceptance for all emotions daily: Allow young people, and yourself, to feel joy, sadness and anything in between. Acceptance of and talking about feelings are steps toward finding meaning in what is happening.

Practicing these strategies and demonstrating how to push through adversity model resilience. So, if you are concerned about the well-being of young people during these uncertain times, model these strategies and discuss them. Transmit the resilience skills and mind-set you have learned from other adversities you have confronted. These strategies require ongoing practice, but each time they are used you are strengthening resilience in yourself and building it in those watching you.

The third part of this three-part series will focus on the community’s role in revealing resilience. Carry on!