Raising Stress-Hardy Children

Given that change is an inevitable part of life, it is important to learn how we can increase our capacity to rebound or spring back from change and loss, a concept now called resiliency by social science researchers. Although some aspects of resiliency are inborn, others aspects can be learned and practiced.  Two of the pioneers in this field are psychologists Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein who, in addition to writing several books and articles on the subject, co-founded the Raising Resilient Children Foundation, dedicated to this important mission on a global scale.

If you are a parent, you will want to raise children who are stress-hardy, a wonderful term coined by Brooks and Goldstein. Just as children are vaccinated  to avoid physical disease, parents can help by inoculating them for the challenges they will face throughout their lives. This is done by practicing a resilient mindset which is a lens through which you see yourself and the world. An example of this is teaching young children how mistakes are an inevitable part of learning new skills and are actually helpful. Raising stress-hardy children also entails allowing children to face problems and pain, with the love and support of adults, rather than protecting them from failure and disappointments. One of our favorite books for parents on this topic, which is Key #3 in How’s Your Family Really Doing? is Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope and Optimism in Your Child by Brooks and Goldstein.

If you are not yet a parent, we recommend The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, a later book by the same authors which helps identify whatever negative scripts may be getting in the way of your becoming more stress hardy. The authors emphasize taking responsibility for one’s actions and their impact on others, as well as setting realistic short- and long-term goals. The book includes a useful appendix with worksheets addressing the concepts covered in each of the chapters.

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  1. It is true that some people have resiliency built into their genes and some learn it as they go, but for some others it is very difficult to learn this skill.They feel more comfortable in their grey moods because that is all they have known. The will to change is lacking.

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