Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Resilience Part 1

I have been asked often, "Why do these kids act this way?" The answer is never simple and it often has several variables. It is easy to take misbehavior personally; especially when a student may be so good at pushing your buttons. However, the action is most likely not as personal as you may think. The truth most likely lies in that the student has learned these negative behaviors as survival skills to the trauma that he or she has been through and uses it as a protection.

Instead of looking at students with emotional disabilities or behavior concerns in a negative light, try looking at them through the lens of resilience.

Resilience (n): 1. The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy.

In my experience, the majority of students with emotional disabilities have been through horrific experiences that we can only imagine. They have been resilient to the misfortune in their lives. Many have suffered or have been witness to repeated abuse or tragedy. It is this experience that often shapes their behavior. They use these skills (arguing, refusal, aggression) to control what they can and maintain some sense of order. In other words, these kids are survivors. These students had to be resilient in order to survive.

Here's another take on resilience:

“The ability to rebound from adversity strengthened and more
resourceful. It is an active process of endurance, self-righting and growth in response to crisis and challenge.”
- Dr. Froma Walsh

I believe that this is where we, as educators, can have the most impact on our students. We can help them to utilize their power in a different way. We can help them to focus their negative energy into something positive. However, it is almost impossible to think that these students can do this on their own. They need to be lead in a positive direction and shown why using more positive actions can be just as positive and commanding as negative ones. These students have remarkable strength.

To be continued...

No comments: