“No one wanted us…When Doug Pederson was hired, he was rated as the worst coaching hire…Jason Peters was told he was too old…. Jason Kelce’s too small. Brandon Brooks has anxiety. Carson Wentz didn’t go to a Division I school. Nick Foles don’t got it. Corey Clement’s too slow… We’re all a bunch of underdogs and you know what an underdog is? It’s a hungry dog… Bottom line is, we wanted it more! And that’s why we’re up here today.”
Could this speech motivate young underdogs? Might this resonate with that child who has anxiety or the one who is smaller, slower, or not the best at academics? One thing most fans agree on is that the Eagles are resilient. Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. As resilience is not a trait, but rather the behaviors, thoughts and actions exhibited when faced with distress, this means new behaviors and reactions can be learned and developed.
How can parents, caregivers, and educators help children build resiliency?
- Let children know they are safe. A safe environment where children are free to express themselves and feel deeply will help them learn to cope.
- Some caregivers are tentative about letting children express their big feelings openly. Help children by labelling these emotions with them and engage in problem solving with them: “I can see you are feeling frustrated; How can we solve this together?”
- Positive peer relationships and connections are integral so children don’t feel alone. Help children connect with others who have similar interests or goals.
- A caring, connected school community helps children feel that they are part of something larger. Engage students and families by having them volunteer to make the school community cleaner, greener, or more beautiful (for example, paint a school mural!).
- Physical health and wellbeing is an important part of social and emotional health. Ensure children eat well, drink plenty of water, get sufficient sleep, and engage in movement/exercise. The release of endorphins will also help improve mood.
- Helping others often helps children gain perspective, improve esteem, and will allow them to meet new people. Find a volunteer opportunity based upon the child’s interests.
- Teach children self-care. Teach them to advocate for themselves when they need help. Teach them to take a break when they feel overwhelmed. Help them create and maintain a daily routine so they know what to expect throughout the day.
Finally, it is important that children learn that it is okay to make mistakes. Nick Foles said it best with his Super Bowl MVP speech:
“I think the big thing is don’t be afraid to fail…Failure is a part of life. That’s a part of building character and growing. Like without failure, who would you be? I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen thousands of times, made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses.”
Let’s help our children realize not only that failure is a part of life, but that learning from these mistakes can help us grow. We can learn a different way to reach a goal, the importance of continuing to try even when we feel defeated, and that teamwork is essential to help us envision possibilities we never could have imagined on our own.
Terri A. Erbacher, PhD is a School Psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is the author of the text Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner’s Guide to Multi-level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention.