By the time they graduate from high school, students will have received approximately 13,000 hours of training and education, supposedly to prepare them for success in the adult world. They are taught the formula for salt, how to play Hot Cross Buns on a recorder, all of the state capitals, and the various plant phyla.
Yet, not a single minute of their time is spent on resilience training.
Not a single minute of their time is dedicated to learning emotional intelligence or self-awareness.
Not a single minute of their time is spent on the skills needed to navigate relationships, overcome setbacks, or find happiness.
Most of these children will not ever need to know the formula for salt. They can google the state capitals. And it is highly unlikely that lack of knowledge of the plant phyla will inhibit their careers in a significant way.
Yet, 100 percent of these children will face an obstacle at some point in their lives. Even if they don’t get divorced, lose a job, have a financial crisis, or face a frightening diagnoses, they will certainly fail at something. Merely surviving the teenage years with your self-esteem intact is a daunting challenge for most people.
So, why do we focus so much on making straight A’s in calculus and no time teaching them the skills to be successful at life?
No Curriculum Exists for Teaching Resilience
For all of the emphasis placed on education, no curriculum exists in which students are taught skills for dealing with negative emotions, navigating challenging relationships, and taking care of themselves in the face of high levels of stress. Instead, our children are put into pressurized molds, funneled through a one-size-fits-all system, taught to conform, conform, conform. Then they are released into college where they are asked to declare a major and set the course for their future without ever being taught to listen to their own internal compasses and with no guidance on how to discover their unique gifts and passions or any support for honoring their own needs and strengths.
I think this is a national disgrace. The most important subject is missing from our children’s education.
It Starts Early
From a young age, rather than exploring and learning to trust their own internal guidance, most children are trained to please everyone else. Instead of looking inward for clarity and guidance, they focus most of their time making sure that the outside world likes them. Starting in kindergarten, they are expected to please their teachers. Junior high hits, and most children start worrying about what their friends think. By the time they get to high school, most teenagers also have coaches, admissions counselors, and parents with a seemingly endless supply of expectations to conform and comply, all at a time when they should be exploring their uniqueness and solidifying their own value system.
It is no wonder that so many teens feel confused, resentful, and insecure.
What They SHOULD Be Learning
Children could and should be taught simple skills for choosing better-feeling thoughts, accessing positive emotions, understanding the relationship between their minds and their bodies, and engaging in behavior that serves them.
If teenagers were taught basic resiliency skills, they would be far more likely to thrive in their personal, academic and extracurricular lives. They would have healthy relationships, healthy bodies, and healthy minds. They would trust themselves to make good decisions and be inspired about their futures.
What Can We Do?
It doesn’t happen in schools, so it needs to happen at home. If parents learn basic resiliency skills, which are founded in self-awareness and emotional intelligence, they can model and teach these skills to their kids, and everyone's lives will improve.
That's why I'm starting this blog. It's time to get these skills out to the people who need them. You don't have to spend hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars in therapy to learn these things.
In the coming months, I’ll begin teaching you these skills. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where I will post short videos and articles, all dedicated to closing the gap between what you should have learned in school and what you actually learned.
In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to learn about resilience, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and happiness.