Friends of the Truckee Library: Mind in the Making: Taking On Challenges
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; One of our jobs as parents is to help children learn to respond to the inevitable stresses our kids face, since life is full of stresses and challenges. But we should do more than help children cope. We need to help them learn to take on challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges (instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them) do better in school and in life. And as with all of the essential life skills, we ourselves need to model the behavior we want to pass on to our children.
Galinsky outlines a number of factors that matter in helping children learn how to manage stress and take on challenges. One is giving your child some control in managing their own stress to help build on their own coping capacities. Helping children gain control comes in many forms. We give them the tools for managing and gradually turn things over to them so they can use these tools.
One example involved helping your child set mini-goals toward the completion of a long-term school project. The mini-goal reward could be Internet time. No goal, no Internet. Another way of helping children learn to cope is to help them know who to turn to for help. One of my favorite examples was using parents as the and#8220;fall guys.and#8221; The author and her husband always told their children if friends were planning on doing something they felt was a bad or dangerous idea, they could opt out and blame it on their and#8220;mean, old fashioned parents.and#8221; This took the peer pressure off their children and they were happy to be and#8220;vilifiedand#8221; in any way that kept their kids out of trouble.
Another factor that matters is your childand#8217;s temperament. Where your child falls on the high-reactive/low-reactive spectrum will help determine how best to help them manage stress and take on challenges. If children who get upset and stressed by new experiences have parents who donand#8217;t help them learn to regulate their emotions, theyand#8217;re likely to become even more fearful and anxious as preschoolers and as school-age children. Parenting styles are also a factor that matters. The two parenting styles that are particularly not helpful are parents who are alarmist and/or intrusive.
Galinsky offers a number of suggestions to help you promote taking on challenges in children: Manage your own stress; turn to others who can help you manage your own stresses; donand#8217;t shield your child from everyday stresses; know that a warm, caring, and trusting relationship with your child makes you a stress-buster; try to keep your own and#8220;alarm buttonand#8221; on low; understand your childand#8217;s temperament. Observe what your child does to calm down, and build on those strengths; give your child appropriate levels of control in managing stress; help children set consequences for not following through on their plans and be accountable; if your child is shy, let him or her watch new situations first, and then introduce change slowly; promote your childand#8217;s and#8220;lemonade standsand#8221; (passions); cultivate a growth mindset in your children; praise your childand#8217;s effort and strategies, not his or her personality/intelligence. Next time: Self-directed, engaged learning.
Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave., 530-582-7846, mynevadacounty.com/library
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