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Weekly articles for school counselors with ideas on how to resolve typical school situations with students, teachers and parents using the solution focused approach.

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Pushing Through: Lessons in Resilience Before the Holiday Break

November 13, 20234 min read

Here we are, just a few weeks away from the holiday break. We're all looking forward to some time off, but we also know there's still a lot to tackle before we get there.

If I were to ask how you manage to keep going, some of you might respond with:

  • It's not really a choice; I have to keep going.

  • I just push through and do what needs to be done.

  • I think about the consequences if I don't keep going!

While these are valid responses, there's often more to our ability to persevere than meets the eye.

Let me share a case study that sheds some light on this:

A ten-year-old boy named Jeremy came to see me with his parents because they were worried about his anxiety regarding school and his fatigue when he returned home each day. Jeremy seemed especially reluctant to go to orchestra class, and the rest of his day felt challenging after that.

I began by asking Jeremy and his family about their best hopes. His family wanted Jeremy to enjoy school and not feel exhausted when he came home. Jeremy, on the other hand, wanted strategies to get through his mornings, particularly orchestra class, which often left him feeling unhappy due to the teacher's constant yelling.

Here's a condensed version of our conversation:

LM: Jeremy, imagine that when you wake up tomorrow, things are better, as if a miracle happened over night. What might be different when you go to school?

Jeremy paused for a moment...

Jeremy: I guess I would just try to get through orchestra, even though it's really hard.

LM: And after you got through orchestra, how would the rest of your day be, as if a miracle had occurred?

Jeremy: I'd leave class and talk to people, looking fine in the hallways.

LM: What would others notice you doing as you looked fine in the hallways?

Jeremy: I'd be smiling and saying hello.

LM: Who would like it if you were looking fine in the hallways and saying hello?

Jeremy: My friends.

LM: How would the rest of your day unfold, with this miracle still happening?

Jeremy: It would go well, and I wouldn't be so tired after school.

LM: And because you wouldn't be as tired, what might you do?

Jeremy: Play a video game with my brother.

LM: Would your brother enjoy that?

Jeremy: Yeah.

LM: Can you recall another time when you got through something kind of hard?

After a brief pause and some stretching...

Jeremy: Well, when we went to visit my grandma in Mississippi, the road trip was really long. I kept asking my Dad when we would get there. It was tough, but I just sat back and thought, "I can push through this."

LM: That's impressive. How did you manage that?

Jeremy: I don't know. I think I just kept playing games on my tablet and thinking about seeing my grandma and having lunch with her. She's an excellent cook, and I really like her.

LM: I wonder, since you got through that car ride like that, how might you use those ideas during orchestra class?

Another pause.

Jeremy: I could push through it. Maybe I could think about something I'm looking forward to after orchestra.

LM: Like what?

Jeremy: Having lunch with my friends, playing basketball at recess, or playing a game with my brother after school.

I jotted down Jeremy's ideas on paper and gave it to him at the end of our session, encouraging him to try this approach for a week.

When Jeremy and his family returned after a week, Jeremy was all smiles.

LM: So, Jeremy, what's going better?

Jeremy: I managed to push through many days.

LM: That's wonderful! How did you do that?

Jeremy: Well, I thought about what I could look forward to after orchestra class, and I didn't let orchestra class bother me as much. I pushed through.

This week, if you are concerned about getting through a situation or a class, think about how you've pushed through challenges before. Most of us get through without even thinking about how we do so. But recognizing how you push through reveals your unique coping style.

School Anxiety SolutionsStudent Resilience StrategiesOvercoming Classroom ChallengesPre-Holiday Stress Management Solution-Focused Coping Techniquessolution focused approachsolution focused school counseling
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Dr Linda Metcalf

Linda Metcalf is the best-selling author of Counseling Toward Solutions and 10 other books. Linda is a former middle school teacher, all-level certified school counselor, licensed professional counselor supervisor, and licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of Texas. She is a Professor at Texas Wesleyan University.

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