Encouraging Resilience in Children

I wrote this blog at the beginning of this school year (October/14). I like to get my daughters’ okays before I publish anything about them. Pippi was not okay with this article so I shelved it…until one day last month. I begged Pippi’s older sister Tabs to let me post a video of her singing. Tabs refused. Finally, after months of begging, bribery worked. I purchased Tabs a small treat and she let me post the video. Pippi came with me to purchase her sister the treat. As we were paying for the treat, Pippi reminded me of this post and asked if I still wanted to post it. I said, yes. Pip said that  if she could have a treat similar Tabs’, she’d let me post it. I caved. Pippi’s too clever for her own good.

Thus, here is the article, with Pippi’s permission: IMG_0029

Encouraging Resilience in Children

First Day of School Fiasco: The Principal, The Brazilian and the Banana

The first day of school was delayed in BC by three weeks due to a teacher’s strike. When the strike ended, as October approached, my youngest daughter Pip was thrilled to learn she would finally be able to start third grade. At the elementary school Pip attends, the students return to their last year teacher and class room until all the children are placed into new classrooms, with their new teachers, usually within a week’s time.

Pip’s first day in her new class arrived and she was placed in a grade 3/4 split with a new male teacher. Her new teacher has a deep, loud voice; which, would be an asset when teaching older children. However, Pip found his voice intimidating. She confided in me that when he said, “Pippi, hand out the papers!” she felt her teeth chatter with nervousness while she completed the task. Pip has always been a gentle, sensitive soul. If someone raises their voice to her, she finds it very upsetting. Talking to Pip in a harsh or loud voice makes her anxious. I have not met Pip’s new teacher; however, I trust that he is most likely a kind person and a fine teacher. Despite my reassurance, Pip insisted that his authoritative voice was too frightening and she did not want to return to school. Pip’s second morning of third grade arrived and she refused to go to school. She demanded that I talk to the principal and have her placed in a new classroom with a new teacher. IMG_0053 I agreed to accompany Pip to school on that morning. Her school has a new principal this year and I had not met him. I made an emergency appointment to talk to the principal before school began. The new principal was very friendly and eager to help but adamant that he could not place Pip in a new classroom. He assured me that her new teacher was a kind man, a good teacher and that in six weeks time, the regular grade 3/4 teacher would return from maternity leave and that the regular teacher was amazing (she won teacher of the year award a few years ago) and that Pip would not want to miss out on being in her class. The principal was also enthusiastic about speaking with Pip about returning to her new class. He was excited to use this experience as a learning opportunity to teach her about resilience. He was once a school councillor and wanted to use his skills to meet with Pip for a few minutes to teach her about being resilient. His plan was to meet with Pip, then have a private word with the male teacher and then introduce Pip back into the classroom.

Resilience, the term used to describe a set of qualities that foster a process of successful adaptation and transformation despite risk and adversity.” 1

When Pip got off the bus after school on Friday afternoon, she had a stuffed banana toy (in little sunglasses) under her arm. I asked her how her day went and if she felt better about her teacher. She said that the new principal was really nice and that he gave her the banana to remind her how strong she is for trying out the class despite having a difficult first day. I asked her if she was still afraid of her new teacher. She said, yes. However, it was Friday…school was out for the week and Pip was eager to forget her school woes. I dropped Pip off at my sister’s house for an after school play date with her cousin. Pip forgot all about school as she played with her cousins.

I attended a dinner party at my sister’s house on Saturday night. After dinner, the troop of adults were conversing in the living room and my sister said to me, “Is it true that the principal gave Pip a stuffed banana at school yesterday and told her it’s because she’s Brazilian?” My sister went on to explain that Pip had told her auntie that the banana is to remind Pip that she’s Brazilian and whenever she feels afraid in class, she’s to take out the banana and be proud of the fact she’s in the class because she is Brazilian. IMG_0032 I am sure the principal is feeling rather pleased with his counselling abilities and that he was able to reintroduce Pip back into the classroom. I also speculate that he’d be thrilled to know that Pip took all his efforts to heart; however, I am sure he has no clue that Pip believes she is now a proud Brazilian with a Brazilian Banana mascot (to remind her of her new nationality incase she forgets).

*This is not the first time that Pip has remembered a different word through her unique word associations: this past summer she met a new friend at the beach named Cash. Pip and Cash spent the day kayaking together in matching junior kayaks. For some reason, Pip could not remember that his name was Cash and kept calling him Cheque all day!

1  Benard, Bonnie, ED386327 1995-08-00 Fostering Resilience in Children. ERIC Digest, Eric Clearninghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Urbana IL.

2 Responses

  1. Sandra Hart
    | Reply

    Pippi is quite the character!

    • Mix Hart
      | Reply

      She is all that! I’ll call you this evening to chat. ( an unintentional little poem)

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