How adults can build resilience in young people

20/08/2018

Mental health is a major worry for one in three young Australians – a number that has doubled in the last two years. Therefore, it’s never been more important for young people to have the skills and resilience needed to navigate the world they live in.

So how can adults help the young people in their lives build resilience and equip them with the skills they need for their overall wellbeing?

Listen

Sometimes in trying our best to solve a problem, we forget that listening allows people to clarify their own thoughts and discover a pathway to a potential solution on their own. When talking to young people, it is important to remember that taking ownership of their own solution is better than being provided with one. Often young people just want someone who will listen and understand how they are feeling.

It is important to validate and normalise the feelings young people have to particular situations where appropriate. For example, if a young person goes through a breakup or fails a test, it is important to let them know that feelings of sadness, disappointment or even frustration are normal and expected. Along with this, it is important to remind young people that these events do not have to define their life in a negative way. Young people need to have a safe space to vent those feelings and if you feel concerned about their reactions, help them seek professional help.

Encourage

Life is about learning through either making mistakes or succeeding. When mistakes are made or things don’t quite go according to plan, it can become easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking. In order to build resilience in young people, it is important to encourage them to continue trying even if things don’t quite work the first time.

Encouraging young people to get involved with their communities and engage in team activities, such as group sports or school programs like YMCA Evolve, can assist young people to build their problem solving skills, team work skills and communication skills, which can all aid in building resilience. Becoming involved within parts of a community can also assist young people to gain a sense of belonging and responsibility.

Support

One of the best ways to support the young people around you is to be a positive role model and show them how to be resilient. While resilience can often be seen as getting through any situation, as significant people in the lives of youth, modelling resilience is about sharing our own feelings and being honest about what we need to do to get through the tough times.

If we are telling young people that getting a good night’s sleep or eating balanced meals will help them to get through those difficult times in life, it is imperative that we support them by doing the same. If you have a young person who is struggling, support them to explore self-care activities that work for them and continue to provide them with a space to talk about how they are feeling.

If you are looking for some extra information around young people and their mental health and wellbeing check out the following websites:
www.au.reachout.com
www.headspace.org.au
www.beyondblue.org.au
www.kidshelpline.com.au/parents

Written by Jacqueline Bentley – YMCA volunteer and social worker currently working in youth mental health.

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