Wednesday Wisdom

November 20, 2019

Reflection Breeds Resilience

By Dr Kathy Weston

Reflection Breeds Resilience


I have done a lot of driving this week, delivering my talks around the M25. Every time I step into my car on these frosty mornings, I am reminded of the importance of getting our cars winter-ready.

It is the perfect time of year to ensure that you have winter tyres in place, winter sunglasses ready and the right equipment to defrost windows quickly in the mornings. I always keep an emergency bag in the car for times when I may end up stuck in freezing conditions and have to come off the motorway, rather than head home.

I may not be the obvious person to advise on car safety, but, having had two major accidents on black ice and in the snow, I feel qualified to pass on these tips or and get you thinking about winter car safety!


As the Christmas season approaches and family fatigue increases, it can be easy to slip into a state of stress. As more is added to our parenting plate, we may sometimes struggle to be patient, kind and understanding with our children.

This is perfectly normal and understandable. However, we have to deal with the aftermath and feelings of guilt that may follow. We might regret the sharp way that we spoke to our children on the school run or the way we made them feel during a telling-off. We might feel terrible that we never managed to make it to that all-important football game.

If you are feeling like this, a fruitful approach is to proactively talk to your children about it. You can prompt a discussion with phrases such as, “I didn’t like the way I spoke to you this morning and I would like to say sorry”, or “I felt annoyed this morning with you, but I have been reflecting and really it had nothing to do with you”.

Reflection breeds resilience in family life. By modelling to our children that we too can mess up, feel regretful and take that tricky step of saying sorry, we teach them an important lesson.


I have been reading, writing and giving talks on aspects of character education lately.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue defines character education as “all the explicit and implicit educational activities that help young people to develop positive personal character strengths or virtues.” Character traits might include honesty, resilience, courage, perseverance and compassion.

I delivered a talk at the BrainCanDo Character Conference at Eton College last week and am advising on a resilience project running across 30 schools being delivered by the Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research. I came across some cool things last week that you might be interested in:

  • A website where you can get your children to find out and reflect on their character strengths. There are paid school subscriptions available, but your child can take the free survey which is rather fun to complete. This ‘youth survey’ is for those between the ages of 10-17. Happily, there is an adult survey that we can fill in and reflect on too.
  • My new article on cultivating resilience in children and young people has been published in the Eton Journal for Innovation and Research in Education (see page 12).
  • The research centre at Eton has its own library of fascinating books about learning and teaching, the psychology of success, neuroscience and psychology. I was pleased to spot my favourite book on Flow which inspired my podcast with expert, Cameron Norsworthy. Enjoy!

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