Improve Resiliency and Optimism in Two Easy Steps
by Nadine Briggs
The Simply Social Kids program coaches kids on social skills but also teaches them resiliency. This aspect of our program is an important point of difference from other social skills programs.
Let’s face it, not all interactions will be successful and rejection is a real possibility. Kids need to be able to manage the ups and downs of making friends. They need to learn how to be more resilient and shift their focus to the things that go well so they don’t get stuck focusing on the things that did not go well.
Here are two exercises you can do today that provide the tools to reshape negative thinking into positive thinking and create a more resilient mind:
A great first step is to figure out core strengths. This can be an enlightening and fascinating exercise for the whole family. When people are aware of their character strengths, those strengths can be used to solve problems and live optimally. It can also help to know which strengths are on the bottom so deliberate focus can be given to developing those areas.
To identify character strengths, visit this website:https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths-via. There is no cost for you or your child to take the Character Strengths Survey (adult and children versions are available) but you will need to create an account. This survey ranks 24 character strengths. The top 5 strengths are the most natural for us so ensuring that your child is routinely using his/her top strengths can help them to live their best life. The survey is a bit long for those with challenged attention spans but I suggest taking breaks if needed and then continuing. The results can help to guide your child through life so the time is definitely worth it.
How to Use Them
The top 5 character strengths are your child’s “signature strengths.” If he/she is not fully engaging those strengths, then it is possible to find ways to use those strengths to improve well-being. For example, if they have creativity in their top 5 but don’t have an outlet for that creativity, perhaps they could learn to paint or sign up for an art class
Craft Idea for Kids
A fun way to play with character strengths is by creating a character strengths shield. Cut out a shield-shape or circle out of cardboard (we use pizza box inserts) and have your child decorate the front with their top 5 character strengths. Poke 2 holes in the center about 2” apart and thread it with a chenille stem or string (this is the handle). Have kids use the shield to “battle” by throwing lightweight objects that represent life’s obstacles (ping pong balls, small stuffed animals, Koosh balls, etc.) at each other and fend them off with their character strengths shield.
3 Good Things Exercise
Humans tend to be wired to focus on the things that are going wrong in life and the pandemic has certainly given us good reason to focus on the negative. The 3 Good Things exercise can help create optimism and resiliency by rewiring the brain to focus on the good things in our lives. The exercise is simple but powerful:
Write down 3 good things that happen each day and why.
This exercise begins to train your brain to look for those golden nuggets in your day, no matter how small. I personally love a good cup of coffee every morning. When my coffee is the right strength and temperature, it helps me to start my day on a good note. Most will notice a difference in what they’re paying attention to after doing this exercise for one week.
- App for 3 Good Things https://apps.apple.com/us/app/three-good-things-a-happiness-journal/id1242079576
- For more on why it works and more resources, https://www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/find-three-good-things-each-day
Everyone can become more resilient with a change in focus and an understanding of how to improve well-being.
If you think your child or teen could use social resiliency coaching, contact us at 978-764-2758.