Study Tips

On Resilience

A fundamental part of education is encouraging our young people to develop resilience, particularly in an age where change is the norm.

However, this can only be done when parents and schools are working in partnership. Every one of us will have to face change and disappointment, many times over in our lives.

Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist who survived two and a half years in Nazi concentration camps, made the case in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ and said:

Man’s Search for Meaning’






“We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we respond.”

How we help the next generation approach misfortune, change, disappointment and failure will have a significant effect on the type of people they will eventually become. A resilient child is able to adapt when faced with adversity and feels competent when solving new problems.

RELATED: Why Your Revision Method May Be Letting You Down

They view obstacles as challenges to rise to, instead of stressors to avoid. In particular, they are able to cope in new environments or situations – however complex they may be. A resilient person will cope best with the workplace, the social setting, the academic environment or a new culture.

How can we as parents, teachers and mentors help? Well, we need to model resilient behaviors and help promote resilience through words, actions and the environments in which our children are being raised. Praise our children for having a go, for their effort and resourcefulness.

RELATED: Learning Habits That You Should Adopt

Dealing with disappointment or failure and doing so positively. Big or small no matter what, children need to be taught, often via experience how to be resilient. They need to learn to lose as much as they need to experience winning. Hence, one of the things that we emphasize at Campbell is competition: academic excellence, sporting experience or cultural activity. Boys naturally take to challenges, win or lose – the issue of resilience is experienced.

Resilience is demonstrated in a number of ways including; Having a sense of optimism, the capability to solve a problem, developing social connections with peers, adaptability, being able to express emotions and carry out physical exercise.

RELATED: How To Use “Student Language” To Teach Language

An expression I use on reports is “greater determination required”. This is both a requirement for the boys receiving such a criticism to take heed of the advice but also to take action. Those individuals who have built resilience will be able to see beyond the criticism and respond with a positive response.

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same….
You’ll be a Man, my son!”
(Rudyard Kipling)

Robert Robinson MBE has been headmaster at Campbell College, Belfast in the UK since 2012. The article first appeared on his blog on the College’s website.