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Building Kind Schools and Communities


“Where does resilience come from?….It comes from knowing that you never have to be alone….If you feel connected, you will always be able to deal with adversity.  The skills we need to deal with adversity begin with a feeling of I can handle this.  It is a feeling of No matter what happens, I can find a solution; a feeling of I have dealt with hard times and come out fine before; a feeling of Even when I feel lost, I always have somewhere to turn.” – Dr. Edward Hallowell


Resiliency, the ability to cope with and recover from adversity, is an important part of life. No one escapes adversity in this life. It may look different for everyone but everyone has to cope at some time or another with challenging  people and/ or situations.  Teaching our students and children skills that may increase resiliency will help them in every aspect of their life, including being bullied.  Given that some youth who bully others may be doing so in response to being bullied themselves or the inability to cope with some difficulty these skills may also prevent bullying from happening.


Fostering Kindness, Empathy, Gratitude and Resilience

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.”   ~Carl Jung

23 Suggestions   :)

  1. Discuss and create a family or class mission statement. Talk about the mission statement regularly and how to work towards it.  Examine how behavior might be influenced by this mission. What is important to your family? What values do you share?
  2. Talk about the importance of getting enough sleep, good nutrition and plenty of exercise for healthy bodies and minds. Make a plan to build good habits.
  3. Talk about how to befriend those who are lonely or sad. Practice looking for those who look alone or sad when entering a room and befriend them.
  4. Discuss, practice and acknowledge noticing when others and we show empathy, kindness or gratitude.
  5. When watching television, movies or reading stories discuss how people are feeling, why and how people might do things differently to achieve varying outcomes.
  6. Role -play difficult situations that your child may be concerned about, practicing various ways of responding to each situation.
  7. Create a gratitude ritual at bedtime and throughout the day, talking together about what you are grateful for. Begin a gratitude journal as a family or individuals.
  8. Talk about the different ways people in your community help either through their jobs or by volunteering. It reminds kids that most people care and do good things that help everyone. Often we don’t notice their effort. Together thank these people verbally or with notes for their helpful work.
  9. Do volunteer work in the community as a family or group.
  10. Learn about other cultures and religions, etc.  Talk about how we can be respectful of & celebrate our differences.
  11. Create a “peace” corner in your home or classroom. Include soft chairs, calming items to hold and look at. Have reading and listening material that is conducive to peaceful feelings.
  12. Share stories!!  Tell stories of when you were growing up. Talk about your day. Research shows that youth who know their family histories tend to be more resilient. It enhances their feeling of belonging and togetherness.
  13. Practice and talk about mindfulness. Practice being mindful by concentrating on your breath for a minute or two regularly throughout the day.
  14. Talk about feelings throughout the day. Help kids identify and express their feelings. Be specific as possible in describing emotions. Play “Feeling Charades” where you guess what the person is feeling by their facial expressions and body language.
  15. Practice listening skills and expressing emotions by taking turns expressing your emotions and the other person a. Mirroring – paraphrasing what is said back  to them
    b. Validation – such as “I can see that…” or “I can understand that…”c. Empathy – express understanding such as “That makes sense to me” or “I understand that you feel…”
  16.  Together practice counting to 10 when angry or upset before responding.
  17.  Remember that behavior is communication. Focus on what your child is communicating. What needs are they are trying to meet.
  18. Teach and practice positive and kind self-talk and self compassion.
  19. Provide opportunities for success to enhance feelings of competency.
  20. With your neighbors, faith or other community, make a list of every young person who lives, attends services, classes or youth group in your particular neighborhood or community.  Ensure that every young person has a connection and relationship to a caring adult in your neighborhood or community.
  21.  Talk about issues and possible solutions to various problems at home, in school, place of worship or community. Practice viewing problems as challenges that can be addressed with creative thinking and cooperation.  Make a game of brainstorming for solutions.
  22. Celebrate Kindness often!! :)
  23. Smile often!!  :)


The Short List of Resilience Factors for Children and Youth  (Masten 2001)

—  Effective parents & caregivers

—  Connections to other competent & caring adults

—  Problem-solving skills

—  Self-regulation skills

—  Positive beliefs about the self

—  Spirituality, faith & religious affiliations

—  Socioeconomic advantages

—  Pro-social, competent peers & friends

—  Effective teachers & schools

—  Safe & effective communities


Most of the suggestions in the following articles can be adapted for use in the classroom, at home or most any environment that youth are in.


http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0205-resilience.html -Using academic strategies to build resilience

http://resilnet.uiuc.edu/library/grotb95b.html -A Guide to Promoting Resilience in Children: Strengthening the Human Spirit

-Appendix of previous link with strategies for teachers/parents: http://resilnet.uiuc.edu/library/grotb95b.html#appendix1 –Promoting resilience in children: teaching and discussion strategies (several concrete suggestions)

http://www.ecoliteracy.org/downloads/building-resilience-home -lesson plan on resiliency

http://knowledgex.camh.net/amhspecialists/promotion/Pages/building_resilience.aspx -Building resilience

http://crahd.phi.org/papers/Fostering.pdf  – Fostering Resilience in Children – Bonnie Benard

http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/prpsum.htm -resilience research in children

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept96/vol54/num01/Building-Resiliency-in-Students.aspx -Building resiliency in students

http://www.edgeworkconsulting.com/tools/16%20Games%20That%20Promote%20Conversations%20About%20Resilience%282005%29.pdf  -Activities to promote conversations about resilience

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resilience.aspx#  -10 tips for building resilience in children and teens

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pressure-proof/201111/7-strategies-building-your-familys-resilience – “7 strategies for building your family’s resilience” (could also be used in the classroom)

http://www.risk-within-reason.com/2011/10/24/coping-strategies – Teaching kids good coping strategies to build resilience. (part 1)

http://www.risk-within-reason.com/2011/10/26/resilience-connection – Building resilience (part 2): How to give your kids a sense of connection

http://www2.aap.org/stress/teen1-a.cfm -Create a personal stress management guide

http://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_works_in_building_resilience__-_summary_1_.pdf – What works in building resilience?

http://www.connectwithkids.com/ADAPP/pdf/BuildingResilienceResourceGuide.pdf  -Resource guide –building resilience discussion questions (includes an activity and worksheets)

http://www.education.com/reference/article/building-resilience-children-challenges -Building resilience in children with challenges

http://www.devereux.org/site/PageServer?pagename=dcrc_sses –Socially strong emotionally secure: 50 activities to promote resilience in young children

http://health.tki.org.nz/Key-collections/Curriculum-in-action/Making-Meaning/Health-education2/Building-resilience-in-schools -Building resilience in schools- Level 8  (This is a lesson plan from a New Zealand government website to use to increase understanding of resilience)

http://www.headroom.net.au/Content.aspx?p=123 –Building resilience in the classroom

http://www.tnschoolsprepare.com/building-resilience -Building resilience: Suggestions for healing activities for children in the aftermath of trauma, grief and loss.

http://danielgoleman.info/2011/resilience-for-the-rest-of-us/ – Resilience for the rest of us

http://www.mindmatters.edu.au/verve/_resources/EnhanceResilience_1.pdf  -Enhancing Resilience

http://psychology.about.com/od/crisiscounseling/tp/become-more-resilient.htm – Ten Ways to Become More Resilient

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=775b94b440ad73397931a9ad7&id=879637a2fb&e=fcb29b10f0  -The secret to raising a resilient child –Dr. Laura Markham

http://eprints.jcu.edu.au/3691/1/3691_Oliver_et_al_2006.pdf – Building resilience in young people through meaningful participation by Oliver, Collin, Burns & Nicholas

http://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk/_library/Resources/BCC/Befriending_Works.pdf -Befriending Works: building resiliency in local communities

http://www.thehappinessinstitute.com/freeproducts/docs/Building%20Resilience%20-%20Using%20Positive%20Psychology%20to%20get%20through%20tough%20times.pdf  -Building Resilience Using Positive Psychology to Get Through Tough Times

http://learningforsustainability.net/pubs/Building_Resilience_in_Rural_Communities_Toolkit.pdf – Building resilience in rural communities

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:9UZQ_7xvoH8J:www.jhsph.edu/mci/Library/Resilience_and_SEL/References_Building_Resilience.doc+national+resilience+resource+center&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESggKuSiH3Zgvw07aVV-Hx8fM8HV5TunsO1LfA4h5CdFBqPQMfzlUFSCtE28k2GfnFNrctU7qbMlNoL0qFptmdrxIl6licdJvHfOtoIhTuoYB_w0gF8rFHG9Ec4_pIT8qgf2fwzo&sig=AHIEtbR9FF6U3daopM60wzSu50ia-9dYaw – References for building resilience