Shifting The Emotional Goal Post

Shifting The Emotional Goal Post

by Srishti Vaswani, Learning Support Team Leader

Have you seen caterpillars emerge from their cocoon? It may appear as though they need help, but eagerness to help them may sometimes cause them harm. The key is to let them struggle just a little bit to give their wings room to spread and form correctly. Our children too need to be nurtured with just the right amount of struggle in order to develop resilience and be effective problem solvers. 

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from failures and setbacks. Resilience is not pretending to always be OK and struggle within. Life will throw us different curve balls for varied lengths of time, and it is up to us how we respond. Given the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, we need to give our children a toolbox of strategies to help them strengthen this muscle of resilience. 

Why is Resilience Important?

Psychologist Emmy Werner in her 32-year longitudinal project found that resilient children were those who tried new experiences and had an “internal locus of control”. They took responsibility for their actions without condemning the circumstances.

The movie Catch it - by Esma delivers a beautiful message of resilience in the face of continued setbacks. There are multiple lessons to be learned: the vulture faces the meerkats alone; the meerkats team up and find different ways to protect their fruit. Despite no one winning in the end, there is humour, gratitude and a sense of accomplishment throughout.  

Strategies to Develop Resilience

Self-talk: In the movie, the meerkats are observed sharing reassuring thoughts with each other as they continue their fight to get their beloved fruit back from the vulture, a ferocious predator who has the advantage of flight and powerful eyesight. Message: be kind to yourself and ask yourself, ““What is the best I can do right now?” 

Well-being: the meerkats cannot fly but they hold on tight as the vulture flies high and are determined to get their fruit back. Message: a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Nourish yourself with quality food, positive thoughts and meditate. This can increase your physical and emotional immunity.

Embrace healthy habits: when the meerkats finally get the fruit, they are happy and proud and then one meerkat shoots the fruit between trees to score a goal! The result is they lose the fruit and the vulture flies by with a spiteful giggle. Message: no matter what happens find things that bring you joy - happiness is a choice.

Help others and seek help: helping others is self-empowering and humbling. To balance that, access support from your community or professionals as this is crucial to building resilience.

This article on building resilience by the American Psychological Association is a useful reference for parents who want to learn more.


Building Your Resilience - article by the American Psychological Association, December 2012.

How People Learn to Become Resilient - article by Maria Konikova, February 11, 2016.