Originally posted in 2015, this post was updated in August 2020.
Being an early childhood educator can be both rewarding and challenging. Above are just a few of the responsibilities early childhood educators have.
Your wellbeing matters because, as an educator, it influences your interactions and relationships with children and young people. It also affects your ability to respond to challenging situations.
Through collaboration, an educator’s workplace and trusted network can promote positive mental health and wellbeing in demanding work environments.
What is professional resilience?
Professional resilience is our individual capacity to thrive in demanding situations. The choices we make when responding to difficult situations and our attitude and willingness to act, demonstrate resilience.
Working together, we can support the professional resilience of our colleagues and ourselves.
Can you think of a few things that you, a colleague or the workplace could do to enhance staff wellbeing?
Things we can do to build professional resilience
1. Build supportive relationships with colleagues. Strong work relationships contribute to professional resilience because we can share ideas, vent frustrations, obtain support and plan for tackling workplace challenges.
2. Think positively. How we feel is often a consequence of how we think. Looking for the positive in situations can lessen stress and allow us to act constructively.
3. Use your strengths. Be aware of and draw on your strengths during challenging situations. Sometimes, we’re more easily able to see strengths in others than in ourselves. Try a positive psychology questionnaire or ask a trusted colleague – they may identify something you haven’t.
In what ways are you using your personal strengths within your role, or are there strengths you are not utilising?
4. Do the type of work that you enjoy doing. When you enjoy your work, you feel satisfied and are less likely to be affected by the work you don’t particularly like.
5. Do something. Professionally resilient people are prepared to act. They focus on what they can do to overcome challenges, reduce stress or manage a difficult situation. You don’t need to go it alone, though. Reach out to trusted networks for support.
6. Look after your health and wellbeing. Work towards creating a balanced lifestyle doing things you enjoy: socialising, resting and relaxing, eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising all help to buffer the challenges that come your way. 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.
6. Laugh. An element of fun in your workplace can ease stress and make the demands of work easier. It also supports the development of positive relationships that help reduce stress.
Workplaces can promote professional resilience
Workplaces promote professional resilience when they support self-care behaviours with their staff, acknowledge the demands on educators, have realistic expectations, provide opportunities for open discussion and reflection, as well as encourage opportunities for Professional Development.
How does your workplace support and encourage the professional resilience of educators?
While you’re putting your energy into creating a positive mental health environment for children and young people, it’s also important to focus on your wellbeing and that of your colleagues. The Be You Wellbeing factsheets explore many topics, including staff wellbeing, stress management, mindfulness, nutrition and mental health and physical activity and mental health.
Be You provides educators with knowledge, resources and strategies for helping children and young people achieve their best possible mental health. This article was first published on KidsMatter (now known as Be You) Early Childhood’s blog in 2015.