The Role of Resilience in Enabling Teens to Achieve Their Potential
Updated: Sep 9
Sifan Hassan is a long-distance runner from the Netherlands. During the 2020 Olympic Games, as she was powering through the last lap of the women's 1,500-meter race, her nightmare came true: a runner ahead of her tripped, prompting a domino effect. Hassan tried and failed to jump over a fallen runner and fell down.
In a situation like this, you might have heard of instances where an athlete gets up and finishes the race anyway - earning respect for not quitting.
But did you know? Sifan Hassan not only got up but decided to run faster and, despite being in last place, she finished the race first!
This was an extraordinary display of resilience - the ability to bounce back quickly from difficulty.
Resilience does not happen in the heat of a moment. It is a mindset that takes years to develop before it can be manifested in this glorious way!
Traits that contribute to resilience
Resilience is a mindset that can be intentionally cultivated with positive reinforcement of specific traits. Here are some of the traits that go into building this mindset:
Knowing when you are in and out of your emotional equilibrium is the start to building resilience. Keeping the intensities of emotions in check begins with self-awareness. When we get triggered, our body reacts in a certain way. Sometimes it is as evident as a high heart rate and sometimes as subtle as a tightness in the shoulders. Being aware of these signals is the first step towards returning to one’s equilibrium and helps to bounce back.
Optimism is the engine that drives resilience. It fuels the mentality that failure is a short-term event and success will be achieved eventually. This positive attitude helps recover from a setback.
Identifying One’s Thinking Trap:
According to Dr. Karen Reivich of the University of Pennsylvania, thinking traps are overly rigid thought patterns that can undercut resilience. There can be four thinking traps in the event of a setback - blaming oneself, worrying about others’ opinions, blaming others or circumstances, and imagining the worst outcomes possible. Recognizing these thinking traps is the first step in freeing yourself from them.
Why is being resilient so important for teenagers?
We all can agree that the teenage years are difficult. Imagine tackling challenges like fitting in a social circle, getting out of a comfort zone, entering high school, the pressure of college aspirations, peer pressure, exam grades, and accepting physical and emotional changes. Adolescents experience these challenges almost every day.
This is why early learning about resilience is important:
When you are resilient you don't let the emotions get the best of you. You are aware of when you are triggered and you have the tools to navigate the triggering event instead of becoming a victim of it. You make rational decisions that are driven by a sense of purpose rather than by expectations, opinions, and norms.
With Resilience, you push your boundaries constantly because you are comfortable with new situations and with making mistakes. Your self-worth is not determined by failure.
How do we coach teenagers to be resilient?
Ann S. Masten, a renowned author of several books on resilience in development, coined the term ‘ordinary magic’ to describe the idea that resilience isn’t rare or special, but just the result of kids having more resources within themselves, their families, and communities.
Watch the below video which explains how we enable children with resources within themselves to instill resilience.
We, at Frolific, believe that every child can be empowered to lead themselves to strive for, achieve, and exceed their potential - despite any setback. We call this a leadership mindset. Resilience encourages teens to not give up in the face of setbacks or challenges.
In our mission to help children grow up with this leadership mindset right from their early years, we are introducing our course, ‘EQ for Leadership’, this August. Read more about it here.
We believe that learning about resilience early on will push them towards realizing their true potential - just like Sifan Hassan, who refused to succumb to the fall even when the stakes were high and the odds low, turning an unforeseen setback into an unprecedented victory.