Helping Your Girl Develop Resilience

Marci Waldorf, Upper School Counselor
I recently began reading the book How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. With a 7-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter at home, and many adolescents whom I love and want to support here at GPS, I figure I need all the help I can get! One issue in particular that the author discusses fascinated me, mainly because I have had so many conversations with friends and other parents. I’m talking about resilience.

Resilience is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from tough situations, and it is a skill that is crucial to healthy growth and development in our young women. Like most skills, it must be taught, modeled, and nourished in order to flourish and become part of one’s character. As we support our girls as they become women prepared to go out into the world and make their marks, I would like to offer some tips on how to further develop their resilience, so they can face life’s challenges without being knocked off course.
  • Help them connect with others. Our students need the time and space to build strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends. Through these connections they can often find needed support, guidance, and acceptance. 
  • Encourage them to learn from their experiences. When they have setbacks, engage them in conversations about how they handled previous experiences. Work with them to examine the skills and strategies that have helped them in the past.
  • Help them fail. One of the best ways to grow and strengthen resilience is to confront failure. Create a space for them to be open and honest about their mistakes and provide support for them to recover and move forward.
We all want to prepare our girls to show strength in the face of adversity and accept life’s challenges while remaining true to themselves and their goals. Our first instinct as parents and caregivers is to try to remove obstacles that might prevent our girls from achieving success. However, it is important for us to remember that thriving through adversity is its own form of success.