The ten amazing characteristics of resilient children to ignite your resiliency

Sometimes, I feel like people get dumber as we get older.

We focus on being clever.

We act like we are experts.

We try to look good in front of our teams.

We try to not get blamed for anything.

Yet, we forget things that we knew innately when we were children.

In fact, I think to develop resilience in people that there is so much that we can still learn from children.

In so many ways, children are resilient. And, we just need to learn what we’ve forgotten.

Follow these 10 characteristics to ignite your resiliency skills.

1. Persistence

I recently had the privilege to see my niece playing and was impressed by her problem-solving skills.

I had never really thought much about how she went about playing. Especially, when she was faced with adversity in her environment.

But seeing her play made me think about how children can adapt. And, how children focus when at play.

You’ve seen children at play, right? You’ve observed them at tasks that seem impossible? And, even though they may face adversity, they achieve their goal due to pure persistence.

Yet, how often have you seen people or teams give up before they even have begun?

I expect your answer to be too many times.

But, looking through the eyes of the child, we get a glimpse of how resilient people should approach adversity.

Resilient management, in this sense, is very straightforward.

It begins with one step. It is then followed by a second step. And then a third. A fourth. And, so on.

Pretty simple, when you think about it.

2. Compassion for others

Compassion and resilience may seem like an odd marriage but there’s an obvious link.

Knowing others enables us to know ourselves.

As children, we learn compassion for others around us. This helps us play (work) collaboratively.

In fact, we learn to understand/feel/react in certain situations through observations and interactions with others.

Resilient children intuitively know that compassion helps them form bonds.

And, I posit that these bonds propel resilient management forward even in times of significant change.

3. Sense of humor

Let’s face the facts children have much better fun than us adults.

They fall. Laugh. And, get back up again.

As people, we complain about how life is so hard on us. Plus, many of us never get back up again.

It is easier to complain about the hard knocks of life than to enjoy what we do.

I believe that humour often puts the magnitude of change in perspective.

This laughter helps a resilient management group to rise above adversity.

And, bounce back with new energy.

4. Strong ethics

Children soon learn right from wrong.

And, they apply this to many settings.

Their conviction is tangible. It allows children to bounce back from many situations without any of the baggage that adults carry around.

As leaders, emotional baggage distracts us from our goals. And makes us less adaptable in our outlook.

5. Get attention in positive ways

We all like praise.

I know I do.

Children especially like to be reinforced.

And they often seek out positive and negative ways to get this attention.

These positive ways usually create the change they desire.

Resilient people should always seek to recognize and reward positive responses.

6. A positive outlook on life

A positive outlook on life is a hallmark of resilient management.

In fact, it is not what happens to us but our response that predicts our emotional well-being.

Fortunately, many children start life with an optimistic perspective.

And resilient children/people keep this outlook in later life.

This outlook enables us to take life’s challenges on directly.

7. Efforts can change things

Children know that they can effect change in their environment. No matter what size they are.

Shall I explain?

Just think of a child who stops crying when they get what they want!

As adults, many of us act as if we have no control.

However, as the Dalai Lama said, “if you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room”.

Resilient people soon accept that being small doesn’t matter.

8. Plan ahead

We have already seen how children can be persistent.

As managers and leaders, we often get stuck being clever.

However, children are very ingenious in breaking situations into manageable pieces.

And, then planning and coordinating their actions.

Resilient people maximize this learning.

Let’s start to behave like children

To be more resilient, it’s important to adopt these characteristics of children.

That doesn’t mean we act like children in our dealings.

It means that we take what can be learned and apply it to the adult world.


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Kay Fitzgerald M. A.

Kay Fitzgerald is a health promotion specialist, course developer and researcher studying personal resilience in the workplace and trauma. Catherine received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies and a Master’s in Health Promotion from University College Cork.

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