Stories of Resilience: Dawit Selassie

We’re sharing Dawit Selassie’s story as part of our Raising Resilience initiative, which equips parents and caregivers with tools to teach kids and teens how to cope with challenges, manage stress and ultimately make healthy choices throughout their lives.

For the past 20 years, Dawit has been a volunteer soccer coach with Soccer in the Streets, an organization that’s empowering Atlanta's youth through soccer training, character development and employability programs. For Dawit, coaching soccer isn’t just about helping young players up their game. Rather, his top priority is showing up for them on and off the soccer pitch.

“Even on the toughest days, these kids can always count on me to show up. They know I’m going to be here,” said Dawit.

Although all kids are born with the ability to become resilient, they need help along the way. Research shows that resilient kids tend to have at least one safe, stable, nurturing relationship with a supportive adult. Oftentimes, that person is the child’s parent, but kids can benefit from healthy relationships with any trusted adult, like a teacher, a grandparent, or, in Dawit’s case, a coach.

“Something we can all do to show up for these kids, and teach and build resilience, is simple. Show up, be present, be genuine,” said Dawit.

In these safe, stable, nurturing relationships, the adults don’t stand back and expect kids to figure everything out on their own. They also don’t prevent kids from failing or making mistakes. Instead, they actively help prepare kids to handle life’s ups and downs by consistently being there, teaching them how to cope, and offering guidance and support.

“It's about planting seeds that we can water, and other adults can water, to help kids grow and flourish,” added Dawit about his role as a soccer coach. “And the kids can carry the foundation that we're laying with them right now to other parts of their lives.”

Quote from Dawit Selassie of Soccer in the Streets about showing up for his kids.

Maybe you can provide safe, stable, nurturing support for a child in your life. Here are a few ways to support kids:

  1. Ask about their life and be a listening ear. Put down your phone and make eye contact when they speak. Repeat what they say to show you’re engaged and paying attention.
  2. Be consistent. Doing what you say you’re going to do helps kids know what to expect and feel safe.
  3. Show up. Attending important events and prioritizing the child’s needs can help make them feel special and wanted. Of course, if something comes up and you can’t be there, be honest and apologize.
  4. Avoid shaming the child if they make a bad decision. The most important part of a safe, stable, nurturing relationship is unconditional support.
  5. Don’t aim for perfection. You don’t have to be perfect to make a positive impact on a child’s life.

To learn more about building resilience in kids, check out our Raising Resilience initiative.