By Cheryl Ichikawa
Life is a series of experiences… some good, some bad and some life-changing. Resilience is our response to those life-changing situations. It’s our ability to see beyond the now, to understand that triumphs are often born out of tragedy, that challenges provide us with opportunities to grow, and that we have the power to decide the path we take in life.
I have come to those crossroads many times in my life and sometimes I took the wrong path and had to deal with the consequences. For me, there came a point when I needed to decide whether to stay on the path leading to nowhere or do the work and find something better. I was tired of wasting time being sad, angry and resentful. So, I decided to let go of my sadness and embrace the possibilities of the future. Along the way I met Dora and she introduced me to Children Today. It was here that I gained a deeper understanding about myself and my life.
In Dora’s blog post, Resilience & the Protective Factors, she talks about three supportive factors that nurture an individual’s ability to cope with stressful situations. She talks about the importance of family, community and self-esteem. For me, dealing with death at 16, was traumatic. Fear, doubt, anger and deep sadness consumed me for a very long time. It left me feeling helpless, hopeless and very alone. Talking about it was not an option, so I dealt with it quietly. For many years, I pretended that everything was fine. Until it wasn’t. The “protective factors” that Dora talked about enabled me to find my way back to the path that I wanted to travel.
As a teacher, mother and victim of trauma, I know how resilient children can be. However, I also understand that in order for them to successfully deal with all the challenges in life, they need to have a strong sense of who they are and what they are capable of. For these children (and families), the role that we play in their lives is foundational. We work hard at nurturing their ability to trust themselves and other people. We support their need to be independent, curious, and at times, very silly. We teach them that learning grows out of making lots of mistakes and some really big messes. We offer them alternative ways of dealing with conflict, allowing them to explore their options and helping them find a satisfactory solution. We embrace them for who they are and what they are trying to become. We honor their stories and their life experiences. But above all, we hope that our children and their families find peace and happiness in life.
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Various members of the Children Today staff contribute to these blog posts.