Health Column

by Sifu (Dr.) Rikin Patel MD

“Resilience” has become the new buzzword in any type of setting—from students at school or university to adults in the workplace. Succinctly, resilience is the quality of bouncing back. Similar to the theory of buoyancy, when pushed under water, our bodies instinctively rise back up to the surface.

In my work as a pediatrician, I am continuously helping children build resilience by helping families navigate stressors, trying to instill healthy habits and coping mechanisms. The reality of life as we can see from the current pandemic is that problems and challenges will continue to come so our goal must be to raise children who can handle the bumps and bruises the world has in store. In this two-part article, I will introduce a 7 C’s holistic approach to resilience for our Youth and Juniors and show how training Kung fu at WKFA inherently provides an incredible system to promote resilience for students at all ranks.

This model of 7 Cs has been taken from Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens.” A common language about resilience will allow us, as a Kung Fu community, to collaborate better and help one another grow as individuals and as a community.

These 7 interrelated principles are:

  1. competence
  2. confidence
  3. connection
  4. character
  5. contribution
  6. coping
  7. control

Competence is the ability to handle situations effectively. When a skillset is in place it allows us to trust our judgments, make responsible choices and face difficult situations. The continuous repetition of technique that is the heart and soul of Kung Fu provides us with a graduated system to hone our strengths and develop our weaknesses in our training. The progression of practicing technique in the air, to a kick-shield or heavy bag, then with a partner through self-defense or sparring, gives us the crucial opportunity to trouble shoot and experiment in a variety of tangible experiences. For parents at home some key questions to consider to help fortify your child’s competence: Do I help my child focus on her strengths and build on them? When I need to point out a mistake am I clear and focused, or do I communicate that I believe she always messes up? Do I communicate in a way that empowers my child to make her own decisions (facilitate their thinking), or do I undermine their sense of competence by giving information they cannot grasp (lecturing)?

Confidence is the solid belief in one’s own abilities and is rooted in competence. When any of us demonstrate competence in real life situations we gain confidence. This in turn helps develop deep seeded security that helps one face and cope with challenges. At our school, the continuous practice over time inevitably fosters confidence through rigorous gradings, healthy competition in tournaments, demonstration and Lion Dance teams and finally teaching as an instructor or helping as a Leadership Team member. At home parents can consider: Do I clearly express that I expect the best personal qualities (i.e. persistence) rather than achievements? Do I hold realistically high expectations? Finally, when I criticize or correct him do I focus on what he’s doing wrong, or do I remind him that he is capable of doing well?

Let’s keep training together to stay resilient this summer. Stay tuned for Part II in the fall.