Here are some of favorite tips from Season 2, Episode 15, Setting Our Kids Up for Resilience, with NYT Best Selling Author Dr. Madeline Levine
1. The “soft qualities” of being a good learner, empathetic, thoughtful, collaborative, flexible and creative are hard to master but essential to “success.”
2. Research has shown that parental pressure has the greatest impact on children’s sense of confidence, anxiety and depression. Parents mean to be helpful, but much of the over-involvement and pressure comes from the discomfort of seeing your child unhappy. Being able to see your child upset is an important part of parenting. You need practice doing that, and so do your children.
3. When you help your child by solving problems for them, you rob them of the opportunity to learn. Instead, we need to give children the tools they need to solve problems and let them experience the natural consequences to their actions, and the messiness of problem solving in the real world.
4. Self-care IS childcare. Instead of only focusing on whether the children are OK, parents need to take care of themselves, focus on their needs and make sure to model for their children how they self-regulate.
5. Resilience isn’t something we are born with. We grow and practice it and we are not all resilient in all categories. It is a combination of self-regulation, flexible thinking, a sense of purpose and optimism. Our children may be rusty, but we all need practice.
Put your infant down drowsy, but awake. By allowing your baby to learn to fall asleep on their own, you are helping them to manage their early distress and self-regulate.
Label emotions. Helping your infant learn the full range of feelings can help them learn to understand the thoughts and feelings of others.
Practice co-regulation. You essentially allow your child to borrow your calm. In order to do that, when they are distressed, focus on your own breathing to regulate your nervous system so that they can “borrow” your calm.
Embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. Let your toddler see you making mistakes, and recovering from them.
Resist the urge to rescue them when they are frustrated. Your toddler grows problem solving skills through trial and error. Allowing them the chance to try multiple solutions on their own, helps to build these muscles early. If they are really stuck, offer one small suggestion at a time, and encourage them to continue to try to figure things out.
Teach coping strategies. Even children as young as toddlers can practice different strategies to aid in self-regulation. This includes deep breathing (think belly breath), taking a pause to calm down, counting to 10 before acting, and seeking out a hug or physical contact from you.
As humans, we're wired to seek comfort and as parents, to protect our kids from suffering. We want life to be easier for them than it was for us. But here’s the thing. Every time we try something new, take on a challenge, face our fears, go out on a limb, the effects are cumulative. We expand the size of our comfort zone, making us feel more and more confident the next time. Which means, our kids pay a big price when our parenting goal is to keep them feeling happy and secure. Find moments when your child is uncomfortable and practice sitting in them. Show your child you can love them through the yucky moments, and support their skills to get out of it.
Talk about a positive attitude and model one at home. Encourage your child to reframe negative thoughts and to find opportunity in challenge. Though some children are naturally pessimistic, optimism can be encouraged early on.
If your child is new to homework, this is a perfect time to start thinking about building their own capacities instead of swooping in to help. Here are some tips around homework:
Stay in your lane and become your child’s cheerleader, motivator, space, time, snack and school-supply supporter, not their teacher
Notice and comment on the positives
Help them develop a homework routine: set time, place, way to complete homework
Stay nearby, but don’t hover
Use open-ended questions to expand their thinking when they’re stuck, but don’t rescue them with easy answers
Resist the urge to correct and criticize. Talk about mistakes as opportunities to learn what they need to work on and also for teachers to know what they'll need to explain better
Be careful that your language or tone isn’t what turns homework into a chore and decreases their internal motivation (for example, “Don’t forget you HAVE to do your reading.”)
Make it fun by letting them teach you what they're learning, listening to their ideas and showing an interest in their thinking
Encourage healthy risk taking. Help your child find opportunities to step outside of their comfort zone and take a risk. This could be auditioning for the school play, asking someone out on a date, or introducing themselves to a new friend. Helping your child to take risks while they have you to catch them if they fall, can help them to gain comfort to take risks in the future.
Let your tween or teen experience natural consequences. If you are working to rescue them, take a moment to think about letting them experience the struggle instead. That may mean having them miss out on something or get in trouble, but it communicates to them that they are responsible for their behavior and capable of handling the consequences of their actions. Your confidence in their capability encourages accountability.
LISTEN. Take time to listen to your adolescents. Make space for them to share without pressure, without an agenda. You can use statements like “I know this is hard. That’s normal. I wonder what you want to do about it.”
Find regular opportunities to promote your tween and teen’s independence. Homework is a great place to start with open-ended questions. “What homework do you have today?" “What obstacles could get in the way?” “How can you reward yourself?” Help them to make a plan and follow through, but avoid micromanaging or becoming the dictator.
More examples you’d like to share with this community? Tell me about how you’re supporting resilience in your household. I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for being a part of Raising Good Humans. We are in this together.