Parent to Parent: Helping kids develop resilience

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Following tragedies like the suicide in Issaquah earlier this month, parents may wonder what they can do to protect their kids.

Psychologist and author of the book “Wise-Minded Parenting”, Laura Kastner, joined KING 5 in studio to talk about helping your children develop resilience to cope with stress and difficult situations.

There are a lot of problems kids can face — drugs, violence, bullying and school failure. For many children, their abilities to cope with huge stressors have been exhausted. 

How does resilience play a role in tackling these big problems?

To promote resilience we need to help children on many levels all at once. As a society or community, we need to address poverty, racism, school safety, dangerous neighborhoods and the lack of organized activities for underprivileged teens after school. 

At the family level, we know that children are more resilient when they have parents that have positive parenting practices, monitor the whereabouts of their children and model good coping and problem-solving skills themselves. 

What are some tips for building resilience in children and teens?

  • Enhance supportive relationships. If children feel secure in their families, they can face stressors with more resilience. Organized activities after school are good for bonding to school, developing pro-social peer relationships, and affiliating with other adults that can provide support and guidance.
  • Structure a calm and organized home. Routine is comforting, helps people get things done, and provides security to children. Parents need to prioritize R & R and healthy ways the whole family can unplug from media, calm their overstressed psychological states and get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Model and support positive coping skills. Show your child how to problem solve, and also how to choose to focus on something other than worries. Demonstrate optimism and acceptance of circumstances that can't be changed. 
  • Make stress management skills a family value. Whether it is a mindfulness practice, yoga or a hot bath, model and talk about the importance of emotional regulation and learning to calm oneself down when one's blood pressure rises. 
  • Empower your child to face challenges. Problem-solving builds resilience, self-worth and a sense of purpose. It's important for your child to develop an identity as a survivor and thriver, not a victim.

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