SCEGGS DARLINGHURST

In This Together

Resilience vs Rescue
I am sure that you, like us, want your daughter to leave SCEGGS as a resilient person - someone able to face challenges, solve problems and accept and learn from their mistakes. However, girls live in a world where opportunities to develop these skills can often be hard. There is no ambiguity in the lives of adolescence instead there are answers at the click of a button. If something goes wrong, they can be in contact by phone in an instant. If they are unsure of an answer, Google will help. Therefore, opportunities where problems arise and a simple Google search won’t provide the answer offer such value. Sometimes, though, it can be very difficult to ignore our desire to rescue and allow these opportunities to rise to the surface - to allow an opportunity for your daughter to develop greater resilience.

There is no doubt that in order to become more resilient we need to actually face disappointment, anger, rejection, worry and fear. However, when we rescue someone from experiencing these emotions-emotions which are a normal part of the human experience- we take away something much more valuable than the short-term emotion they feel. It is extremely empowering to solve a problem, to have moments of reflection on our successes and failures, our challenges and triumphs. These learning opportunities provide growth, build our sense of self-efficacy and ultimately help us to become more resilient in the future.

When your daughter is feeling anxious or worried, a ‘rescue’ response can often override other possible solutions. However, whilst allowing your daughter to have a day at home or giving them a chance to avoid feelings of discomfort may ease the anxiety momentarily, it can often do more harm in the long run. Anxiety is a natural (and important) emotion and failure, whether real or perceived, is unavoidable. I would also ask, what safer, more supportive place could you find to experience disappointment or failure? Of course, if your daughter’s level of anxiety is prolonged or feels disproportionate to the event, we would always encourage you to speak to us here at school.

Sometimes our desire to rescue is a response to our own distress or concern. Remembering that we have a choice how to respond and when to respond is actually very powerful. Having a series of questions you can ask which prompt your daughter (and sometimes yourself!) to develop their resilience and try to solve problems themselves first can be so helpful. For example:

  • What are three other possible outcomes?
  • How could you approach that conversation? We can role play this together if you’d like?
  • If your friend was experiencing this, what advice might you give them?

When our immediate response is to rescue someone, unconsciously we are also saying that we don’t have faith in their ability to solve the problem themselves. You do not have to respond immediately when you receive a message or phone call from your daughter. It can be hard to ignore, but remember that if there was a serious issue, the school would be in contact immediately.

Even as teachers, sometimes our initial response is to try to solve the problem a student brings to us! And whilst this is sometimes the right thing to do, we do a disservice to the young people we care for when we don’t give them the opportunity to try solve an issue themselves.

So, whilst we understand how hard it can be not to respond to that initial urge to rescue, remind yourself that resilience is something that grows with every challenging experience. By encouraging your daughter to practise resiliency it allows them to be courageous, independent and strong, and what amazing qualities to possess.

Bethany Lord
Director of Pastoral Care