Excerpt of Raising Resilient Children by Drs. Brooks & Goldstein
(Page 4 of 10)
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The Mindset of the Parent Who Fosters Resilience in Children
Parents who engage in the process of raising resilient youngsters possess an understanding that is sometimes explicit, at other times implicit or intuitive, of what they can do to nurture a resilient mindset and behaviors in their children. Such parents know about and appreciate the components of resilience, so that their interactions with their children are guided by a blueprint of important principles, ideas, and actions. However, grasping the complexities of this blueprint is an ongoing process filled with challenges, frustrations, setbacks, and successes. As one parent commented, "It might be easier if children arrived with an owner's manual or road map."
This is a thought that all parents have entertained at various times. It would be reassuring to believe in the existence of one set of operating guidelines, one direct course to follow, as we prepare our children for what lies ahead. Though some may wish for a true, proved, golden path to the future, that path does not exist. Nonetheless, we can be comforted by the knowledge that we have certain guideposts to help us traverse and appreciate each child's unique road. While each road is shaped by a variety of factors, including the child's inborn temperament, family style and values, educational experiences, and the broader society or culture in which the child is raised, these guideposts provide principles and ideas applicable for all roads and thus can direct us in raising resilient children.
This chapter describes each of the guideposts and how they shape the mindset and action of parents. The principles and actions in each of these guideposts are examined in greater detail in subsequent chapters. Remember that these principles and ideas shape parenting practices and beliefs that are important for all children, not just those who have experienced hardship, adversity, or trauma. The fast-paced, changing world of the twenty-first century requires that all children acquire the outlook and skills associated with resilience. Following is a list of ten guideposts that form the foundation for helping to reinforce the mindset of resilient youth. These may seem to be obvious, commonsense practices that most reasonable parents would follow without difficulty. However, as noted earlier, even the principles and practices of effective parenting that appear obvious require continuous thought and reflection so that we don't lose sight of what is truly important in our parenting behaviors. The guideposts embedded in the mindset of parents who foster resilience in their youngsters include:
- Being empathic
- Communicating effectively and listening actively
- Changing "negative scripts"
- Loving our children in ways that help them to feel special and appreciated
- Accepting our children for who they are and helping them to set realistic expectations and goals
- Helping our children experience success by identifying and reinforcing their "islands of competence"
- Helping children recognize that mistakes are experiences from which to learn
- Developing responsibility, compassion, and a social conscience by providing children with opportunities to contribute
- Teaching our children to solve problems and make decisions
- Disciplining in a way that promotes self-discipline and self-worth
Let's get acquainted with each of these parenting guideposts and the principles and actions they exemplify.
1. Being Empathic
A basic foundation of any relationship -- parent-child, husband-wife, teacher-student -- is empathy. Simply defined, in the parenting relationship empathy is the capacity of parents to put themselves inside the shoes of their youngsters and to see the world through their eyes. Empathy does not imply that you agree with everything your children do, but rather that you attempt to appreciate and validate their point of view.
Copyright © 2001 Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein