Scouts builds resilience in children, a key strength that is required to be successful throughout life. Martin Seligman, a renowned Psychologist and who is known as the father of Positive Psychology has researched the idea of resilience, producing empirical data. His findings are now utilised in many youth focused programs globally. Seligman refers to resilience as the ability to cope with what life throws our way. A resilient individual works through challenges, by utilising person resources like optimism and hope. Being resilient does not mean a child will not experience adversity, distress, or challenges. It is their learned ability to bounce back following a life challenge. Scouts’ programs are designed to build resilience in youth, based on many years of research, and anecdotal evidence.
Positive Psychology In Scouting
The Positive Psychology field encourages positive and enjoyable activities unique to an individual, supported by a more positive way of viewing life. It is a scientific study, backed by solid research about what makes life worth living. It concentrates on the positive aspects of living, such as happiness, flourishing and well-being. It aims to bring scientific evidence to aspects of well-being, personal strengths and the benefits of flow, creativity, community, physical and psychological health. Scouting ticks all the boxes in terms of creating resilient and physically/mentally well-balanced young people, as members are offered an opportunity to do more of what they love. Additionally they discover what that looks like to them individually – the diversity in activities to choose from are endless.
Scouts activates the adventurous side of children and encourages them to push boundaries and overcome fears. Group Leaders will connect with youth members to build a mutually trusting relationship, supporting youth to give things a go, where previously they may have felt scared. Making new friends can feel confronting for some children, and Scouts encourages and fosters new friendships between members as a group goal.
Scouts Develops Confidence
Martin Seligman has additionally researched optimism and says it is a ‘tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation’. He also posits, ‘the ripple effects of optimism make all of us more resilient, live longer, have better physical health, more likeable and achieve more.’ Optimism is determined by how we speak to ourselves (our internal dialogue) – also known as our individual ‘explanatory style’. Scouts guide youth to discover what they are good at and how to view themselves in a more positive way, often resulting in a healthy self-image and with increased confidence. Scouts programs are not limited to outdoor pursuits – for example, the more creative child may join the Adelaide Gang Show, the longest running and largest Scout theatre group in South Australia!
Scouts Promotes a Growth Mindset
Children with a fixed mindset believe their abilities are a fixed set of traits they are born with. It does not matter how hard they try; they cannot improve in specific areas and nothing will change this. Scouts turns this way of thinking on its head. Chief Scout Bear Grylls would not have achieved what he has if not for years of practise and persistence!
Children with a growth mindset understand and believe their abilities and skills can improve through effort, hard work and persistence. They know their brains can grow and learn new things. They believe in the power of yet – ‘I cannot do this yet, however with practise, I will get there’. This mindset encourages Scouts’ youth to keep trying and not give up.
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