The little people who enter your gym aren’t simply potential future gymnasts; more importantly, they’re future adults and contributors to society. And the skills they need in order to grow into that important role can be developed now in your gym. We’re not talking primarily about the physical skills you’ll be teaching your students, here — although those will undoubtedly benefit them. No matter what path they pursue, though, life skills such as sharing and resilience will be necessary components in their success, extending into their careers as well as their social lives. Today, we’re going to look at the extremely important skill of resilience.
Defining & Determining Resilience
As adults, we can easily see that some people are more resilient than others. At its core, resilience can be defined as the ability to adapt well in the face of stress, trauma, adversity, tragedy, and threats. Also referred to as the “never-quit attitude,” resilience can be seen in the person who determines to master a skill despite repeated failed attempts. Not only can this life skill be seen in your gym, but it can also be honed and taught there. The results, in a child’s life, can become much more far-reaching than any cheer competition trophy or gymnastics medal.
What kinds of situations require resilience? Your students will encounter challenging circumstances in all arenas of life. At home, a 6-year-old boy loses his favorite board game to his younger sister. At school, an 8-year-old girl sees her best friend sitting with other girls at lunch time, instead of at their usual spot. At the gym, a 10-year-old girl can’t quite master a new skill, no matter how hard she tries. A 12-year-old boy who’s always gotten straight A’s discovers that he tanked his latest math test. These situations will continue to come up throughout your students’ lives with continuously mounting stakes.
The difference between a resilient individual and one who’s not yet mastered this important life skill does nothing to determine the kinds of challenges a person faces; instead, it has everything to do with how a person responds to those challenges. Looking at some of the examples above, the response can determine the trajectory of a person’s life. In both everyday situations and major life crises, this character quality will be tested and cemented.
The 6-year-old boy who lost the game will learn to congratulate his sister, even though he feels like accusing her of cheating and throwing the game across the room. The 8-year-old girl whose friend is sitting elsewhere will wave at her friend across the room and determine to enjoy the company of others instead of pouting or wishing her friend ill.
Those who have achieved this kind of determination aren’t made of different stuff than those who lack it; they’ve simply honed a skill. We’ll talk more about that in Part 2.