As adults, we tend to look back on our years growing up as carefree and full of wonder. But what we’re probably forgetting is that our youth through the late teen years was mostly spent learning how to deal with problems and bouncing back from adversity. The ability to do these things is called emotional resilience. When you have a child with special needs, helping them establish their own process of regulating their emotions is crucial. Although each student at our Nashville school has unique and special needs, our educators employ many tactics that help them create a positive learning environment for each.
Help them build connections.
It is not always easy to make friends in middle and high school, particularly for children with a learning disability. As a parent, you can initiate social interactions that help your young learner establish a strong network of support. This starts by demonstrating to your child how he or she can be a friend, which is undoubtedly the best way to make them. One activity to consider is volunteering. Talk to your student’s educators as well about how they create an inclusive environment for everyone. Whether this is in the classroom, on extracurricular excursions, or at lunch, all interactions help establish these vital connections. When searching for boarding schools, like ours in Brentwood, make a point to look for one that offers opportunities for students of all abilities to make meaningful connections.
Create consistency in their lives.
Consistency is a key that can unlock a young adult’s ability to manage their emotions. Think back to when you were young. If you moved or your parents got divorced, you likely felt unsettled, and you may have had to learn how to trust your environment all over again. Give your own children consistency from as early an age as possible. Once they enter middle school, this will become even more important as this is the time in their lives when they are learning how to function as an adult. If you have yet to find an academic setting that provides the structure and consistency you desire, know that there are boarding schools that cater specifically to students with learning differences. Currey Ingram is easily accessible to families in Brentwood and the surrounding area.
Encourage courageous acts.
At our special needs school in Nashville, our educators encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone. Doing so offers an opportunity for achievement, which can build self-esteem as well as emotional resilience. Working through a challenge and coming out victorious on the other end is a life experience that all students deserve.
Create goals together, and then work toward them.
Goals are more than just dreams. They are something to look forward to and work toward. Teach your child how to set goals for themselves. These do not have to be grand, and even the smallest of goals builds confidence once achieved. As your student makes progress toward their desired outcome, offer praise. The older they get, the bigger their goals can grow. High schoolers still benefit from setting goals, strategizing on how to reach them, and seeing benchmarks on the path toward success. Special needs boarding schools throughout Brentwood, Nashville, and the surrounding area, often break down large assignments and take a pause to celebrate small sections of them. For example, if students are asked to complete a report on ancient Mesopotamia, this assignment might be broken down into research, initial draft, writing, editing, and then the final piece to be turned in. At each checkpoint, students are given feedback, praised for their accomplishments, and can see the progress they have made.
Remind them of their accomplishments.
You can help your child develop emotional resilience by reminding them of the things they have already achieved and the trials they faced along the way. By looking back at past challenges, they are better equipped to handle issues that arise in the future. Remind them of how they learned how to work through adversity and make appropriate decisions, and then encourage them to trust their instincts. Doing so can help them establish a sense of self-worth. This is crucial since teens and tween are just learning how they fit into a bigger picture.
Let them learn from self-discovery.
Self-discovery is the process of learning about yourself and how you react to different situations. When your child fails to complete a goal, use this as a learning opportunity. Talk them through what happened and ways they could have reacted differently to change the outcome. Sometimes, students learn that their temper or other trait was the only thing that prevented them from experiencing the success they desired. In the future, they can use this information to make better choices.
Comfort them when it is needed.
Although the process of self-discovery ends with a stronger character, it is not easy. Provide comfort when they need it most. The most emotionally resilient adults are those that grew up with people around them they could look for comfort within times of stress and duress. Be their strength when they need it, and allow them to work through their emotions, whether they are scared, angry, or sad.
Walk through emotions.
Many boarding schools, including Brentwood's Currey Ingram, follow the RULER method of emotional intelligence learning. This is a process developed by Yale University that helps students learn to manage their emotions by recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating them. You can use the same ideas to help your child experience emotions in a healthy environment. As they get older, they will be exposed to situations that can be emotionally unsettling. A break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, for example, is devastating for a teenager. But these are life experiences they can use and, with your help, turn into a stepping stone toward adult-level emotional resilience.
Middle and high schools are each a whole new world. Students with learning differences need extra support through these trying times to develop the skills they need to thrive in college and beyond. Remember, it is your job as a parent to walk with them on their journey to emotional resilience. The above tips can help you help them do just that while creating a strong foundation for the future and even stronger bonds between you.
As the only boarding school in Brentwood, Currey Ingram Academy follows the RULER methodology.