7 things we can do to build professional resilience

Being an early childhood educator can be both rewarding and challenging. Here are just a few of the responsibilities early childhood educators have above.

Sometimes these demands can take their toll and lead to stress and burnout. Being professionally resilient can prevent or minimise the effects of demanding and challenging environments on mental health and wellbeing

What is professional resilience?

Professional resilience is about our individual capacity to thrive in situations of high demand and ongoing pressure. It involves being able to recover from significant challenges, difficulties and setbacks and then use these for learning and personal growth in the workplace.

Often the choices we make in responding to difficult situations, such as our attitude and our willingness to take action, demonstrate resilience.

With the assistance of our workplaces, we can all play a role in supporting the professional resilience of our colleagues and ourselves.

Can you think of a few things that you, a colleague or the workplace do could to enhance staff wellbeing?

7 things we can do

1. Build supportive relationships

Strong relationships in the workplace are powerful contributors to professional resilience. We have the capacity to tolerate a lot more stress when we have supportive relationships with managers and colleagues. This is because relationships help us share ideas, vent frustrations , obtain support and generate plans for tackling workplace challenges.

2. Think positively

How we feel is often a consequence of how we think and behave. Looking for the positive in situations can lessen stress and allow us to act in constructive ways. Support positiveness by:

displaying or thinking attitudes like ‘I know I can get through this’

having a focus on finding solutions

understanding what can and can’t be controlled

expecting the best out of every situation

3. Use your strengths

Becoming aware of your strengths can help you draw on them during challenging and demanding situations. Having opportunity to utilise your strengths can change your feeling of satisfaction about your role too.

In what ways are you using your personal strengths within your role, or are there strengths you are not utilising?

Sometimes we are more easily able to see the strengths of others. If pinpointing your own strengths is tricky, try a   positive psychology questionnaire or ask a trusted colleague or friend … they might identify something you haven’t.

4. Do the type of work that you enjoy doing

Discussing with your manager which parts of your role are most satisfying may open up opportunities to engage in this type of work more often.

When you enjoy the work you do and feel satisfied, you are less likely to be affected by the parts of your work that you don’t particularly like.

5. Do something

Professionally resilient people are prepared to act. They keep the focus on what they can do to overcome challenges, reduce stress or manage a difficult situation.

Noticing and remembering what internal strengths and external supports or processes assisted you to ‘bounce back’ can provide solutions and plans for future situations too.

6. Look after your health and wellbeing

Doing things that you enjoy outside of work, socialising, leaving enough time for rest and relaxation, eating well, getting enough sleep and doing exercise all support a balanced lifestyle and help to buffer some of the negative experiences that may come your way.

Sometimes when you’re finding it difficult to cope it may be helpful to speak to a GP or mental health professional. Taking care of yourself is important.

7. Laugh

Bringing in an element of fun at your workplace can help ease stress and make some of the demands of work easier to overcome. It also supports the development of those positive relationships that are great for reducing stress.

Workplaces can promote professional resilience too

  • Acknowledge the reality and demands of the workplace
  • Support self-care behaviours in staff
  • Provide forums for discussion and strategy-sharing
  • Provide opportunities for staff to express strong feelings
  • Introduce a mentoring system where educators are given opportunities to share and reflect on experiences with their colleagues
  • Encourage opportunities for further education and professional development
  • Have realistic expectations of educators
  • Enable educators to use their strengths in their day-to-day work
  • Communicate relevant information that has an impact on the work educators do in an effective and timely manner

How does your workplace support and encourage the professional resilience of educators?

More Information

Taking care of yourself: Managing stress in child care services

Stress management for carers of young children 

This article was originally published on the KidsMatter Early Childhood website.
Read the original article here.

 

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KidsMatter Early Childhood

KidsMatter is a mental health and wellbeing initiative for children. KidsMatter Early Childhood works with early childhood education and care services to support the mental health and wellbeing of young children, their families and early childhood educators using a promotion, prevention and early intervention framework. Visit the website by clicking here.

3 thoughts on “7 things we can do to build professional resilience”

    Vivian McDermott says:

    I could not agree more with your article,but in saying that,because the profession of early Childcare education ,has such a transient staff population,it takes a long time to build up the relationships with changing teams,that never stay the same.
    I have been in the field for twenty five years and I was a community psychiatric nurse ,before that,which was a much more challenging role in the community.
    I have a passion for nurturing and educating children,but I find it takes ten years for most of my colleagues to really understand teamwork,in a professional sense.
    It is really the sum of all of us that makes the difference,of course, but a lot of peoples personal issues and personalities ,get in the way of being responsible and reciprocal to each other.
    I have mentored teamwork ,to some staff over the years and they just are not capable of letting go ,of whatever power struggle that they need to have.
    It is a good thing that I have a sense of humour actually.
    I find videoing practice is a good tool as well,as talking about what geese do,when some- one needs support.
    I think the level of emotional maturity is so important to have,and a vital ingredient in this profession,but I suppose the ones that stay ,learn eventually,but at what cost ,to the staff and children’s stress levels.
    Cheers,
    Vivian.

    Amelia says:

    The changing nature of teams in early childhood settings can certainly challenge the professional resilience of us all.
    There is something about the way teams who have been together a long time operate … It is often like two people who know each other well completing each other’s sentences.
    However, having said that, new arrivals to the team can be inspiring, offer many new opportunities and re-energise a team that has become set in its ways. In the situation where a new person enters a previously established team, the team is only as old as its most recent member.
    Regardless of how long they have been together, teams, just like the individuals within the team, develop their own unique identity and need to be cared for. It is worthwhile to occasionally put your team under the spotlight (see https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/early-childhood/blog/your-team-under-spotlight) and monitor its wellbeing.
    For supporting professional resilience while getting to know your team, caring for it, celebrating its successes and weathering storms that arise, it is important to remember, Robert John Meehan’s words:
    “The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives”.
    It is great that online spaces like this exist and are available to support us too.

    Amelia-KidsMatter Project Officer

    Sara Richardson says:

    I agree the transient workforce especially in long day care impacts however I wonder if there are bigger issues at play as well. One of these is horizontal violence described in AJEC Vol. 31 No. 3 September 2006 “The notion of horizontal violence highlights contradictions between a lingering discourse of niceness and a
    culture which condones behaviours that marginalise and exclude others. The outcome of this culture is a powerful
    expectation of compliance which does little to foster or encourage leadership activity. http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/AJEC0603.pdf

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