by Holly Koons, Social Worker
Anticipating a class presentation, experiencing domestic violence in the home, or being exposed to bullying at school – all can be triggering events for youth. However, an individual’s resilience can determine how well they navigate these negative occurrences. Resilience is the capability to adapt and cope with circumstances outside of one’s control, and it shapes the way an individual responds and recovers from each incident. Further, resilience is not proven to be innate; but, rather, learned and built through environmental experiences. In particular, social activities are an excellent way to exercise one’s coping and adaptation aids.
There are benefits to regular social skills activities in relation to building resilience in youth. Activities such as games, projects, or worksheets can be integrated into the daily routine in order to provide further personal enrichment. The latter should focus on specific elements of learning and self-reflection for the participants. Those involved should be learning to establish and maintain positive social connections with peers and adults.
Additionally, establishing self-esteem and association with those around them is vital to an individual’s success. Thus, individuals should become familiar with creating opportunities to build individuality, recognizing and showing emotions effectively, and overcoming obstacles in order to generate confidence and independence. There are many influential ways to foster social competence and personal growth through social skills. The aforementioned strategies are more effective with proper education and training.
According to the mental health organization Beyond Blue, elements of resilience should be taught to everyone facilitating social skills to build resilience. The four main points for resilience education are: 1) emotion management, 2) emphasis on personal accountability and responsibility for oneself, 3) creating activities for engagement, and 4) developing supportive connections with others.  Social skills, such as pairing a student with someone whom they normally would not choose, enabling a child to create a presentation on coping skills, or engaging in a game that allows children to reflect on how they have handled past experiences are all great examples of building resilience. Similarly, challenging participants to go outside of their comfort zones, and encouraging them to consistently contribute to the social session, are important factors to their success.
The level of resilience one acquires, maintains, and utilizes throughout their lifetime impacts many areas of the person’s wellbeing. Mental health, in particular, is one facet that is affected by a lack of resilience. The Mayo Clinic provides several helpful suggestions for combating the negative mental health ramifications of low resilience. Getting connected to those around you, participating in meaningful experiences, being proactive when facing current issues, and remaining hopeful of positive outcomes are supportive suggestions to maintaining and building adaptation tools.  In these ways, positive mindsets can cultivate and increase the ability to cope. Ultimately, engaging in social activities that offer reassurance and social alliances promotes positive mental health while building resilience.
Individual social competency, adaptation abilities, coping skills and responses to environmental stimuli are all connected. These can be improved through the correct, positive exercises of social skills activities and engagement. Consistency and duration are vital to the success of these social events impacting resilience levels in an individual. All those who work with individuals building esteem and belonging should be educated completely about the mechanisms and importance of the measures that impact learning. Social skills activities should be wholistic in aiding an individual to learn independence and competence, in order to develop positive and strong resilience impacting the way these individuals respond and move forward in life.
 Building resilience in children (beyondblue.org.au)
 Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship - Mayo Clinic