If young people are to succeed in life, if they are to grow to become strong, productive Christians, have healthy relationships and develop to their full godly potential, they need to be resilient. In Part 1, we explored the idea of resilience and the major contributing factor in its development. Now let’s examine the impact personal qualities have on a young person’s resiliency.
Studies have found that there are three qualities that make children, teens and young adults more resilient. While most of these might be considered personality traits, there is room for growth in young people who don’t naturally have these qualities.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the most resilient people are optimistic. They can more easily find the upside of almost any negative situation. They are the ones pointing out the “silver linings” or turning an embarrassing episode into a funny one. It shouldn’t surprise us that when faced with uncertainty, failure or bad news, they don’t stay stuck in negative thinking for long.
So what about young people who are naturally more pessimistic or who are “realists” as many pessimists frame themselves? While they may never naturally see the good hidden within the bad or be able to easily laugh at themselves, they can be taught techniques to stop negative thinking as soon as they become aware of it – refusing to allow themselves to ruminate on negative thoughts. It will take time and effort, but it can be done.
The second personal quality of those who are resilient is the ability to make friends easily. Why? Because having a strong support network is crucial during tough or confusing times. People who make friends easily usually have several people on whom they can call when they need help, emotional and spiritual support, prayer, etc. Once again, some children just are naturally great at making lots of friends. Others struggle and become “loners”. Thankfully, the art of making friends includes several skill sets that can be taught and practiced. Off putting behaviors can be softened or eradicated. Children who are socially awkward may not have as many friends as more “popular” kids, but having even one or two good, supportive friends can improve resilience.
The final personal quality studies found increases resilience is the ability to adapt easily to change. Why? Uncertainty, failure and negative events often bring with them changes. Changes, especially frequent or significant changes, require those impacted by them to adapt quickly and easily. Those who get stuck and want things to remain where they were can develop a victim mentality. They want the world to return to the way it was and since it won’t, they are stuck in mourning the past. If prolonged mourning lasts long enough, the person can cease to learn, grow or be productive or even healthy.
Personally, I usually love changes. They often bring new and exciting adventures and things to explore. Some of you and the young people to whom you minister may be like me. For those who balk at even the smallest changes, they may never eagerly embrace change, but they can be taught how to manage the anxiety it causes them – and if not embrace, at least tolerate needed or unavoidable changes.
All three of these areas can be addressed in the course of some of your Bible lessons. Explore why Christians need to be resilient. Discuss the various aspects of being resilient. Offer additional resources to students who may struggle with some areas. The reality is that some of your students will always be more naturally resilient than others, but all of them can improve their resiliency from its current state. In our next post, we will explore learned skill sets that can improve resilience in young people.