Children’s Emotional Resilience

Young Business Girl On Stage Lifting Barbell

When you were learning how to ride a bike as a kid and you fell off and skinned a knee or an elbow, did you just brush yourself down, get back on and try again, knowing that eventually after some practice, you’d get the hang of it?

Or did you do what most of us did, and cry a bit and refuse to get back on the saddle until your mum or dad forced you to?

For most of us, learning to ride a bike was a painful and undignified affair that involved much wobbling, some falling off, lots of tears (some of pain, most of frustration) and a good deal of anxiety before we got to the elation of two-wheeled, confident independence.

In fact, for kids, most learning experiences are like that.

But many people seem to think that children develop resilience purely through the act of failing. That’s not the case. Children actually develop resilience by learning how to deal with failure successfully.

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The Invisible Pain Of Growing Up

The Invisible Pain Of Growing Up

It’s the hardest job in the world. There’s no interview to see if you have the right skills for it, no fail-proof training to give them to you if you don’t. The original product is something you’ve never dealt with before and it arrives with dozens of accessories but no instruction manual.

In the early days, it emits all sorts of alarms, all of which relate to different operational issues but which, to your spectacularly untrained ear, sound exactly the same.

Through trial and error, you learn how to fix these problems. But no sooner do you resolve one than another, completely new problem arises for you to work out. And pretty soon you’re wondering if you’re worthy or capable of doing the job at all.

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The Bunfight At The Not-OK Corral

The Bunfight At The Not-OK Corral

Dusk settles over the house and the air is heavy with tension. In the kitchen, two pans bubble. It’s almost innocuous, that bubbling. In any other house, it would be an almost merry sound – a cheerful counterpoint in life’s great orchestra.

But not now. Not here. Here, that bubbling is about as cheerful and as welcome as a crow’s caw. Because it heralds misery.

There’s a noise behind you. You don’t turn. You don’t need to. You know what’s there. You try to stay calm. You try to pretend that today it will be different. Today there will be no misery. But you know the lie too well.

You strain the pans. Put the contents on the plate, next to the breaded chicken. You’ve added tomato sauce. His favourite. And chips. You’re thinking about whipping up some gravy. Would that be too much? You don’t know anymore. You’ve lost all sense of reason. You do know the whole damn plate is a bribe, really. He knows it, too. It might work. Might not. Probably not.

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Additional Credits

Video by Weeks360.

Photography by Liz Bishop Photography.

Production by Mark Norman at Little Joe Media and Joanne Brooks.

Hair by Jonny Albutt.

Make up by Olly Fisk and Nabeel Hussain.