Among many life skills your students can learn in your gym, resilience (see Part 1) is definitely among the most significant. Children start facing challenges early in life, and they need to learn to respond in a way that’s healthy. Every time they respond to even small daily challenges with resilience, they strengthen that life skill, helping them prepare for challenges ahead. Like any skill, though, some children will naturally demonstrate more resilience than others. While that might be discouraging, there’s good news, too: like other skills, resilience can be taught.
Teaching Resilience by Example
Once you realize that resilience is a skill — and an important one, at that — the teacher in you is probably thinking of ways you can help the students who enroll in your gym’s programs to develop this skill. Like any skill, modeling it is an important part of the teaching process. What do you do when you try to teach a new skill, only to have the majority of your class misunderstand? What about when you try to demonstrate something and mess up yourself? How you respond to those kinds of challenges will influence your students and inform their own responses. When an unexpected problem arises — whether it comes in the form of a late shipment of uniforms or an illness or injury — they’ll be watching you as well.
Teaching Resilience by Instruction
While direct instruction can’t be the only way to teach life skills, it should definitely be part of the equation. Consider having instructors include a 5-minute pep talk at the beginning or end of each instructional session, giving examples of resilient people or talking through potential scenarios your students might experience in the gym. Once in a while, maybe you could even have students act out case studies and come up with possible responses.
You may also wish to consider having a monthly mantra or asking each instructor to adopt his or her own catch phrase that encourages a resilient attitude. Some of our favorites are these:
- This is hard, but that’s okay: you can do hard things!
- Make your comeback bigger than your setback.
- You’ve got this.
- Don’t give up; give it your all.
- Your challenges don’t define you; your response to them does.
Teaching Resilience by Attitude
Resilience is one of many skills that are part of a growth mentality, something directly opposed to perfectionism. While some kids will crumble in the face of challenges, others may pretend they don’t care; either way, the result is far from ideal. While you don’t want to “rescue” them every time, you do want to encourage growth rather than frustration. On that note, always be sure to encourage positive responses to challenges and avoid shaming or hopeless verbal responses to student mistakes or shortcomings.
Continue reading with Part 3.
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