How to foster your child’s resilience to survive in this chaotic world

Today we are sharing a guest blog from Dr. Meg Meeker about raising resilient children while Shaunti is in this season of cancer treatments. Enjoy!

Resiliency is key to living a successful life. Here’s how to cultivate it in your child.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Applying for a new job.

Making friends at school.

Trying out for the basketball team.

Learning a new hobby.

All of these common life experiences require resilience.

Resilience is perhaps the most important quality a person can have, and, therefore, perhaps the most important quality you can instill in your child.

Resilience is what will ensure your child has a successful adolescence and adulthood. It will ensure she is not deterred by failure or disappointment, which are so frequent in life. And it will allow her to build real relationships and create deeper connections without the fear of those relationships ending.

Who wouldn’t want his child to be successful, able to move on from failure, and able to foster strong, loving community in her life?

Because of this, it’s important to teach your child how to be resilient now, even before the big life challenges come her way. How do you this? The No. 1 way to build resiliency in your child is to let your child fail.

We learn and grow the most not in our successes but in our failures. Any adult understands this. It’s during the trying times that we learn to be resilient and stand back up. We return stronger than we were before.

However, it is difficult to imagine our kids suffering the heartache of failure, so we often go to great lengths to protect them from it. We do their homework, we fight their battles, we don’t let them try new things, for fear they may not succeed.

My friend Dr. Tim Elmore, author and parenting coach, calls this “over-functioning parenting,” and it really is an epidemic with parents today. Over-functioning parents think they are protecting their child when really, they are doing the opposite. They are failing to prepare their child for adulthood and impairing their potential.

Stop preventing your child from experiencing failure and start preparing her instead. Allow her to try a new sport or activity that you know she will have to work hard for. Then, when she messes up, allow it to be a learning opportunity.

Letting our children fail is one of the best ways to exercise their resiliency and prepare them for adulthood.

Be aware of how you respond to your child’s failure.

When your child fails, and every child inevitably will, don’t give him a sense that you are worried or that you feel sorry for him. When parents communicate this to their kids, the kids believe that something is wrong with them. Then, they worry even more. Be upbeat and matter-of-fact with him.

Simply say, “Sorry you lost, buddy.” Or, “You did a great job. You can learn how to do better next time.”

He will be emotional and upset, but your steadiness will show him that failure isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a part of life.

Ask the right questions.

A great way to make failure a learning opportunity for your child is to ask her the right questions afterward. But be aware of your tone. Don’t jab her with questions like What went wrong? or You studied so hard. How did you get a C?

Instead, be kind and curious. Dr. Elmore suggests asking questions like, Why do you think that happened? How did it make you feel? How could you have handled that differently? Next time that happens, what do you think you could do?

These questions tell your child, You can be resilient. You can come back and win this! This will make your child think you believe in her, and she really can do better next time. Your belief in her now is key to her resilience in the future.

Protecting your child from the world will not make him more resilient. In fact, it will do the opposite. Let him fail. Then, use that failure as a positive learning opportunity. The world today might seem like a scary place, but with the right tools and a strong sense of resiliency, your child will not only survive the real world but will thrive in it.

Meg Meeker, M.D., has spent more than thirty years practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine and counseling teens and parents. Dr. Meeker is a fellow of the National Advisory Board of the Medical Institute, is an associate professor of medicine at Michigan State School of Human Medicine.

A popular speaker on pediatric health issues and child-parent relationships, she is a frequent guest on nationally syndicated radio and television programs. She works with the NFL Fatherhood Initiative and spoke at the UN in 2016 on family issues. Dr. Meeker lives in northern Michigan, where she shares a medical practice with her husband, Walter. They have four children. You can learn more by visiting her website here.

Find Christ-focused wonder in the midst of everyday life no matter what your situation might be. Pick up a copy of Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy , available in major bookstores.

Step 1: Toxic Stress 101

  • Toxic Stress
  • Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development
  • ACEs and Toxic Stress

Step 2: The Science and Social Causes of Toxic Stress

  • Excessive Stress Disrupts Brain Architecture
  • InBrief: The Science of Neglect
  • Social and Behavioral Determinants of Toxic Stress

Step 3: Preventing and Addressing Toxic Stress

  • You Are Here: Resilience
  • Tackling Toxic Stress
  • Video: What We Can Do About Toxic Stress

Reducing the effects of significant adversity on children’s healthy development is essential to the progress and prosperity of any society. Science tells us that some children develop resilience, or the ability to overcome serious hardship, while others do not. Understanding why some children do well despite adverse early experiences is crucial, because it can inform more effective policies and programs that help more children reach their full potential.

One way to understand the development of resilience is to visualize a balance scale or seesaw. Protective experiences and coping skills on one side counterbalance significant adversity on the other. Resilience is evident when a child’s health and development tips toward positive outcomes — even when a heavy load of factors is stacked on the negative outcome side.

How to foster your child's resilience to survive in this chaotic world Over time, the cumulative impact of positive life experiences and coping skills can shift the fulcrum’s position, making it easier to achieve positive outcomes. Play Tipping the Scales: The Resilience Game to learn more.

The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships provide the personalized responsiveness, scaffolding, and protection that buffer children from developmental disruption. They also build key capacities—such as the ability to plan, monitor, and regulate behavior—that enable children to respond adaptively to adversity and thrive. This combination of supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building, and positive experiences is the foundation of resilience.

Children who do well in the face of serious hardship typically have a biological resistance to adversity and strong relationships with the important adults in their family and community. Resilience is the result of a combination of protective factors. Neither individual characteristics nor social environments alone are likely to ensure positive outcomes for children who experience prolonged periods of toxic stress. It is the interaction between biology and environment that builds a child’s ability to cope with adversity and overcome threats to healthy development.

Research has identified a common set of factors that predispose children to positive outcomes in the face of significant adversity. Individuals who demonstrate resilience in response to one form of adversity may not necessarily do so in response to another. Yet when these positive influences are operating effectively, they “stack the scale” with positive weight and optimize resilience across multiple contexts. These counterbalancing factors include

  1. facilitating supportive adult-child relationships;
  2. building a sense of self-efficacy and perceived control;
  3. providing opportunities to strengthen adaptive skills and self-regulatory capacities; and
  4. mobilizing sources of faith, hope, and cultural traditions.

Learning to cope with manageable threats is critical for the development of resilience. Not all stress is harmful. There are numerous opportunities in every child’s life to experience manageable stress—and with the help of supportive adults, this “positive stress” can be growth-promoting. Over time, we become better able to cope with life’s obstacles and hardships, both physically and mentally.

The capabilities that underlie resilience can be strengthened at any age. The brain and other biological systems are most adaptable early in life. Yet while their development lays the foundation for a wide range of resilient behaviors, it is never too late to build resilience. Age-appropriate, health-promoting activities can significantly improve the odds that an individual will recover from stress-inducing experiences. For example, regular physical exercise, stress-reduction practices, and programs that actively build executive function and self-regulation skills can improve the abilities of children and adults to cope with, adapt to, and even prevent adversity in their lives. Adults who strengthen these skills in themselves can better model healthy behaviors for their children, thereby improving the resilience of the next generation.

R esilience is the ultimate end goal in tough times. We want our children to “learn resilience”; we all want to become “more resilient” ourselves; we hear about resilient communities. But what does resilience actually mean—and how do we cultivate more of it?

“Resilience is the capacity of a person, community, family or economy to adapt successfully to challenge,” says Ann Masten, a professor of child at development at the University of Minnesota and author of several books about resilience. “Resilience in people involves many processes and multiple systems, which is one of the reasons humans are so adaptable.”

Rather than some elusive goal or character trait we may or may not possess, resilience is accessible to everyone. “It is a naturally occurring phenomenon,” says Roberta Greene, a clinical social worker and professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. “All people are resilient to certain degrees.”

Resilience can, in part, be nurtured from within. Greene encourages people to consider what can be positive about their future, and what actions have helped them weather difficult events in the past. “Often people have their own solutions and haven’t thought of returning to them,” she says. People can also empower themselves by trying new things, like learning a musical instrument or taking a class. Doing so helps people prove to themselves that they are capable of growth and change.

But the degree to which people are resilient largely hinges on one overlooked but key practice: cultivating a network of social support.

Why other people matter

“If you are going to foster anyone’s wellbeing, the first thing you have to do is make sure there is a dependable support network around them,” says Suniya Luthar, professor emerita at Columbia University Teachers College. “Resilience rests fundamentally on relationships.” A pioneer in resilience research, Luthar has studied kids who came from disadvantaged communities and experienced tough events in childhood, such as living in poverty or having a parent with mental illness. She and her fellow researchers wanted to know why some children thrived while others did not.

Her research has shown that the most resilient children tended to have strong relationships with caregivers they trusted who made them feel listened to and loved. “The most important factors that help kids under stress are related to the quality of caregiving—in particular in relationship to primary caregivers, who usually are moms,” says Luthar. “There was someone in their lives who showed them unconditional acceptance—they were seen and loved for the person they are.” Other findings have underscored the importance of close social support. Children who experience the most success and mental resilience “usually had strong mentoring, one strong parent, an important teacher or some strong social connections,” says Greene.

The need for social support from a family or other group is universal. Greene studied survivors of some of the most traumatic periods in history—the Holocaust, Cambodian genocide and the Jim Crow American South—and found that while certain personal attributes, such as a sense of humor or problem-solving skills, increased a person’s resilience, what mattered most was “how they interacted with family, their community, the spiritual community and the larger society.”

That conclusion may not seem revolutionary. But it’s often left out of American conversations about how to build resilience, which tend to focus on individual achievement and self-improvement, experts say.

Michael Ungar, director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Canada and author of Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success, is tired of reading stories about how people simply need to meditate—or do other self-help acts—to become more resilient. People don’t exist in a vacuum, and community support, he says, is so much greater than anything one person can do on their own. “We know that a single mom of three who has lost her job in the pandemic will survive much better if people help her redefine her work, bring over a casserole, if the landlord cuts her some slack, and the government sends her check or she gets an opportunity for retraining,” he says.

Understandably, there’s a tendency “to want to pick up things that are more doable in our eyes, but breathing and relaxing can only go so far,” says Luthar. “I love yoga, but if that was all I had to depend on to stay sane through this pandemic, I’d be a wreck,” she says. “You have to have a support network. It’s not optional. It’s essential.”

How to strengthen your support network

Luthar wanted to figure out how to apply her findings to real-world situations, so she first focused on moms (since they are so important to kids’ resilience). Whether they were women recovering from addiction or physicians in high-pressure work settings, having weekly in-person facilitated conversations with other mothers going through the same thing decreased their stress levels and stress hormones significantly. Their kids also noticed an improvement in their parenting.

Something similar happened when she looked at educators—another group of people likely to influence children’s ability to thrive, and who have high rates of burnout. This time, she tried small weekly meetings, held virtually, and found they also cut through isolation and helped teachers find support and community. You can join a group facilitated by Luthar, or you can even start a small support group yourself, she says; here’s how. “Even if you are very beleaguered,” says Luthar, “make the time.”

A support group isn’t the only way to create or strengthen your support network. You can also join an online community or faith group, help out your neighbor, move closer to extended family, commit to a family dinner a few times a week, or ask the kids to do more chores, Ungar suggests. By bringing you closer to others, these acts can help you build your resilience, one relationship at a time.

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Highlights

Foster parents have multiple concerns about the complexity of the child welfare system.

Foster parents report negative experiences, an unnecessarily complex system, and contradiction between intentions and what is actually practiced within the system.

A prominent theme from the majority of participant interviews and surveys was a detailed and reflective description of the participant’s personal experience.

Foster parents expressed a detailed account of their process navigating and learning about the system, particularly experiences with their child and case worker.

Abstract

Foster parents are the individuals who provide caregiving services to children in substitute care. Foster parents are faced with multiple demands when it comes to providing care for foster children, for which they may not expect or be prepared. The purpose of this study was to examine current and former foster parents’ experiences within the child welfare system to better understand what their unique experiences have been and their perception of the need for changes to the system, specifically highlighting areas of resilience. This study included 39 current and former foster parents from across the United States. Three overarching themes were identified: concerns about the complexity of the child welfare system, personal narratives that highlight the complexity in the system, and means of navigating complex experiences within the child welfare system. Findings were described and discussed within the context of a resilience model. These findings have implications for foster parent training, support, and intervention with foster parents currently involved in the child welfare system.

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R esilience is the ultimate end goal in tough times. We want our children to “learn resilience”; we all want to become “more resilient” ourselves; we hear about resilient communities. But what does resilience actually mean—and how do we cultivate more of it?

“Resilience is the capacity of a person, community, family or economy to adapt successfully to challenge,” says Ann Masten, a professor of child at development at the University of Minnesota and author of several books about resilience. “Resilience in people involves many processes and multiple systems, which is one of the reasons humans are so adaptable.”

Rather than some elusive goal or character trait we may or may not possess, resilience is accessible to everyone. “It is a naturally occurring phenomenon,” says Roberta Greene, a clinical social worker and professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. “All people are resilient to certain degrees.”

Resilience can, in part, be nurtured from within. Greene encourages people to consider what can be positive about their future, and what actions have helped them weather difficult events in the past. “Often people have their own solutions and haven’t thought of returning to them,” she says. People can also empower themselves by trying new things, like learning a musical instrument or taking a class. Doing so helps people prove to themselves that they are capable of growth and change.

But the degree to which people are resilient largely hinges on one overlooked but key practice: cultivating a network of social support.

Why other people matter

“If you are going to foster anyone’s wellbeing, the first thing you have to do is make sure there is a dependable support network around them,” says Suniya Luthar, professor emerita at Columbia University Teachers College. “Resilience rests fundamentally on relationships.” A pioneer in resilience research, Luthar has studied kids who came from disadvantaged communities and experienced tough events in childhood, such as living in poverty or having a parent with mental illness. She and her fellow researchers wanted to know why some children thrived while others did not.

Her research has shown that the most resilient children tended to have strong relationships with caregivers they trusted who made them feel listened to and loved. “The most important factors that help kids under stress are related to the quality of caregiving—in particular in relationship to primary caregivers, who usually are moms,” says Luthar. “There was someone in their lives who showed them unconditional acceptance—they were seen and loved for the person they are.” Other findings have underscored the importance of close social support. Children who experience the most success and mental resilience “usually had strong mentoring, one strong parent, an important teacher or some strong social connections,” says Greene.

The need for social support from a family or other group is universal. Greene studied survivors of some of the most traumatic periods in history—the Holocaust, Cambodian genocide and the Jim Crow American South—and found that while certain personal attributes, such as a sense of humor or problem-solving skills, increased a person’s resilience, what mattered most was “how they interacted with family, their community, the spiritual community and the larger society.”

That conclusion may not seem revolutionary. But it’s often left out of American conversations about how to build resilience, which tend to focus on individual achievement and self-improvement, experts say.

Michael Ungar, director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Canada and author of Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success, is tired of reading stories about how people simply need to meditate—or do other self-help acts—to become more resilient. People don’t exist in a vacuum, and community support, he says, is so much greater than anything one person can do on their own. “We know that a single mom of three who has lost her job in the pandemic will survive much better if people help her redefine her work, bring over a casserole, if the landlord cuts her some slack, and the government sends her check or she gets an opportunity for retraining,” he says.

Understandably, there’s a tendency “to want to pick up things that are more doable in our eyes, but breathing and relaxing can only go so far,” says Luthar. “I love yoga, but if that was all I had to depend on to stay sane through this pandemic, I’d be a wreck,” she says. “You have to have a support network. It’s not optional. It’s essential.”

How to strengthen your support network

Luthar wanted to figure out how to apply her findings to real-world situations, so she first focused on moms (since they are so important to kids’ resilience). Whether they were women recovering from addiction or physicians in high-pressure work settings, having weekly in-person facilitated conversations with other mothers going through the same thing decreased their stress levels and stress hormones significantly. Their kids also noticed an improvement in their parenting.

Something similar happened when she looked at educators—another group of people likely to influence children’s ability to thrive, and who have high rates of burnout. This time, she tried small weekly meetings, held virtually, and found they also cut through isolation and helped teachers find support and community. You can join a group facilitated by Luthar, or you can even start a small support group yourself, she says; here’s how. “Even if you are very beleaguered,” says Luthar, “make the time.”

A support group isn’t the only way to create or strengthen your support network. You can also join an online community or faith group, help out your neighbor, move closer to extended family, commit to a family dinner a few times a week, or ask the kids to do more chores, Ungar suggests. By bringing you closer to others, these acts can help you build your resilience, one relationship at a time.

Today we are sharing a guest blog from Dr. Meg Meeker about raising resilient children while Shaunti is in this season of cancer treatments. Enjoy!

Resiliency is key to living a successful life. Here’s how to cultivate it in your child.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Applying for a new job.

Making friends at school.

Trying out for the basketball team.

Learning a new hobby.

All of these common life experiences require resilience.

Resilience is perhaps the most important quality a person can have, and, therefore, perhaps the most important quality you can instill in your child.

Resilience is what will ensure your child has a successful adolescence and adulthood. It will ensure she is not deterred by failure or disappointment, which are so frequent in life. And it will allow her to build real relationships and create deeper connections without the fear of those relationships ending.

Who wouldn’t want his child to be successful, able to move on from failure, and able to foster strong, loving community in her life?

Because of this, it’s important to teach your child how to be resilient now, even before the big life challenges come her way. How do you this? The No. 1 way to build resiliency in your child is to let your child fail.

We learn and grow the most not in our successes but in our failures. Any adult understands this. It’s during the trying times that we learn to be resilient and stand back up. We return stronger than we were before.

However, it is difficult to imagine our kids suffering the heartache of failure, so we often go to great lengths to protect them from it. We do their homework, we fight their battles, we don’t let them try new things, for fear they may not succeed.

My friend Dr. Tim Elmore, author and parenting coach, calls this “over-functioning parenting,” and it really is an epidemic with parents today. Over-functioning parents think they are protecting their child when really, they are doing the opposite. They are failing to prepare their child for adulthood and impairing their potential.

Stop preventing your child from experiencing failure and start preparing her instead. Allow her to try a new sport or activity that you know she will have to work hard for. Then, when she messes up, allow it to be a learning opportunity.

Letting our children fail is one of the best ways to exercise their resiliency and prepare them for adulthood.

Be aware of how you respond to your child’s failure.

When your child fails, and every child inevitably will, don’t give him a sense that you are worried or that you feel sorry for him. When parents communicate this to their kids, the kids believe that something is wrong with them. Then, they worry even more. Be upbeat and matter-of-fact with him.

Simply say, “Sorry you lost, buddy.” Or, “You did a great job. You can learn how to do better next time.”

He will be emotional and upset, but your steadiness will show him that failure isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a part of life.

Ask the right questions.

A great way to make failure a learning opportunity for your child is to ask her the right questions afterward. But be aware of your tone. Don’t jab her with questions like What went wrong? or You studied so hard. How did you get a C?

Instead, be kind and curious. Dr. Elmore suggests asking questions like, Why do you think that happened? How did it make you feel? How could you have handled that differently? Next time that happens, what do you think you could do?

These questions tell your child, You can be resilient. You can come back and win this! This will make your child think you believe in her, and she really can do better next time. Your belief in her now is key to her resilience in the future.

Protecting your child from the world will not make him more resilient. In fact, it will do the opposite. Let him fail. Then, use that failure as a positive learning opportunity. The world today might seem like a scary place, but with the right tools and a strong sense of resiliency, your child will not only survive the real world but will thrive in it.

Meg Meeker, M.D., has spent more than thirty years practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine and counseling teens and parents. Dr. Meeker is a fellow of the National Advisory Board of the Medical Institute, is an associate professor of medicine at Michigan State School of Human Medicine.

A popular speaker on pediatric health issues and child-parent relationships, she is a frequent guest on nationally syndicated radio and television programs. She works with the NFL Fatherhood Initiative and spoke at the UN in 2016 on family issues. Dr. Meeker lives in northern Michigan, where she shares a medical practice with her husband, Walter. They have four children. You can learn more by visiting her website here.

Find Christ-focused wonder in the midst of everyday life no matter what your situation might be. Pick up a copy of Shaunti’s latest devotional, Find Joy , available in major bookstores.

Add to Mendeley

Highlights

Foster parents have multiple concerns about the complexity of the child welfare system.

Foster parents report negative experiences, an unnecessarily complex system, and contradiction between intentions and what is actually practiced within the system.

A prominent theme from the majority of participant interviews and surveys was a detailed and reflective description of the participant’s personal experience.

Foster parents expressed a detailed account of their process navigating and learning about the system, particularly experiences with their child and case worker.

Abstract

Foster parents are the individuals who provide caregiving services to children in substitute care. Foster parents are faced with multiple demands when it comes to providing care for foster children, for which they may not expect or be prepared. The purpose of this study was to examine current and former foster parents’ experiences within the child welfare system to better understand what their unique experiences have been and their perception of the need for changes to the system, specifically highlighting areas of resilience. This study included 39 current and former foster parents from across the United States. Three overarching themes were identified: concerns about the complexity of the child welfare system, personal narratives that highlight the complexity in the system, and means of navigating complex experiences within the child welfare system. Findings were described and discussed within the context of a resilience model. These findings have implications for foster parent training, support, and intervention with foster parents currently involved in the child welfare system.

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How to foster your child's resilience to survive in this chaotic world

From surging hormones and acne to body hair and body odor, puberty can be a rocky transition for any kid. But girls and boys who start physically developing sooner than their peers face particular social and emotional challenges, researchers find.

“Puberty is a pivotal time in kids’ lives, and early maturing boys and girls may be more likely to struggle psychologically,” says Jane Mendle, a psychologist and associate professor at Cornell University.

Shots – Health News

How Girls Are Developing Earlier In An Age Of ‘New Puberty’

A 2018 study conducted by Mendle and her team found that girls who entered puberty significantly earlier than their peers were at higher risk for mental health concerns. They’re more likely to become depressed during adolescence, the study finds, and this distress can persist into adulthood.

“For some girls, puberty can throw them off course, and the emotional stress can linger,” Mendle says, “even after the challenges of puberty wane.”

While the age-range for puberty varies, says Jennifer Dietrich, a pediatric gynecologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, the average age of menses is 12.3 years old. However, about 15% of females start puberty much sooner — by the age of 7.

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests boys are also developing earlier, by age 10, which is six months to one year sooner than previous generations.

Pediatricians haven’t identified a lone cause for this shift, but Louise Greenspan, a pediatric endocrinologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, says childhood obesity, environmental chemical-contributors, and the effects of chronic stress — a hormonal response to neglect or abuse in the family, for example — may all play a role.

At a crucial time when kids long to fit in, puberty can make them stand out. And when breast buds and body hair sprout during elementary school, children often feel exposed. Unable to hide their sexual development from others, they may feel ashamed or embarrassed.

“Starting the conversation when kids are young, and keeping lines of communication open can make the transition less scary.”

Dr. Louise Greenspan, Pediatric Endocrinologist

Cosette Taillac, a psychotherapist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., recalls a particular client, a 9-year-old girl, who was started to feel self-conscious playing soccer because her body was developing.

When the little girl no longer wanted to participate in sports — something she had always loved — her parents sought Taillac’s help.

“She didn’t want to dress in front of her teammates,” says Taillac.

Studies show girls who physically mature early, may be more likely than boys to ruminate about these uneasy feelings. According to researchers, this can prolong the emotional distress, which may increase their risk of depression and anxiety.

Still, though girls are more likely to internalize the stress they feel, boys aren’t unscathed, says Mendle.

In research by Mendle and her colleagues, early maturing boys were more likely than others to feel socially isolated and to face conflict with friends and classmates. “This may increase their risk of depression,” she says,”but we’re uncertain if these effects last into adulthood.”

Because information about early development tends to focus on girls, parents are often perplexed when their sons start puberty early, says Fran Walfish, a child and adolescent psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Shots – Health News

Want More Stress In Your Life? Try Parenting A Teenager

Their first clue, she says, may come when a tween boy refuses to shower or wear deodorant.

Helping kids navigate these new social and emotional hurdles can be tricky, especially since puberty spans several years. But don’t be afraid to reach out — or to start the conversation early.

Greenspan suggests talking to children about sexual development by the age of 6 or 7. “Starting the conversation when kids are young, and keeping lines of communication open can make the transition less scary,” she says.

At times, parents may also need to advocate for their children. “My client’s parents worked with the soccer coach to create more privacy for her when dressing for team events,” says Taillac. The simple adjustment helped the girl feel safe and more confident.

Of course, not all kids are eager for a parent’s help; some shy away from even talking about their newfound struggles. That’s sometimes a sign they’re confused or overwhelmed, child psychologists say.

“It’s important for parents to realize that puberty triggers identity questions like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where do I fit in?’ for boys and girls,” Walfish says.

Taillac says reading books together can help. “Books provide a common language to discuss what’s going on, which can open up conversations between parents and children,” she says.

For elementary school girls, “The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls,” by Valorie Schaefer can be a helpful book. Reading “The Tween Book: A Growing Up Guide for the Changing You,” by Wendy Moss and Donald Moses can be informative for boys and girls, even as they reach the teen years.

Shots – Health News

An Early First Menstrual Period May Lead To Premature Menopause

Seeing your child mature early can also worry a parent. If you find yourself unsure of how to intervene, psychologists say, remember that distraught kids often want the same thing we all seek when we’re upset — a generous dose of empathy.

Luckily, compassion doesn’t require parents to have all the answers. Puberty calls for the same good parenting skills as any other age: being emotionally available to kids through their developmental milestones, witnessing their growing pains, and providing comfort when life throws them curveballs.

That advice is simple; the effects powerful. Scientific evidence shows this kind of parental support helps foster emotional resilience, and that bolsters kids’ health and relationships for years to come.

Juli Fraga is a psychologist and writer in San Francisco. You can find her on Twitter @dr_fraga.

In a complicated world, read these ideas for fostering childhood wonder, innocence, and joy through simple acts.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” –W.B. Yeats

One of the most delightful things about children is their sense of innocence and wonder, yet helping them maintain that sense of wonder can be challenging in our sophisticated, hurried society. Fortunately, cultivating childhood wonder and joy doesn’t require monumental effort, but rather, doing less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does. Quick, simple activities can make a big difference. In this article, we offer a few ideas for creating a wonder-filled home.

Tips for Cultivating Childhood Wonder & Creating Moments of Joy

Read together. Since its heyday in the early 20th century, children’s literature has been a powerful creative and imaginative force. From Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter and Max and Ruby, good books allow children to suspend disbelief, explore new worlds, and meet amazing characters. Make reading together a tradition in your family. When reading to children, choose beautifully illustrated non-fiction books to help them discover the wonders of science, history, and nature. Read lovely children’s poetry to attune your child to the beauty of language and metaphor. Dive into high-quality children’s fiction that rouses imagination and encourages deeper thinking, sparking your child’s intellectual curiosity.

Limit technology. Technology can be a wonderful tool for researching new topics and answering questions. Well-chosen movies can inspire a sense of wonder and joy. Yet, technology used indiscriminately can dull the imagination. Set technology limits and choose what your children consume wisely. Avoid media that seems cynical or sensationalized, including news shows. Children should not be burdened with information that is too adult in nature. They have neither the cognitive nor social-emotional skills to process this information.

Cultivate beauty. Routines and schedules keep us on track and help children feel safe, but think about developing routines that go beyond the merely practical. Incorporate rituals and traditions that nurture beauty, wonder, and peace. Simple pleasures like lighting a candle and listening to lovely music with dinner or taking 10 minutes at bedtime to talk with a child about his day create moments of joy. These rituals will vary from family to family and shouldn’t feel like a task. Well-chosen rituals can foster an environment that invites us to hush, slow down, and enjoy the peace of a slower pace.

Joy and wonder isn’t a luxury for children, but a necessity. Small moments of joy and a feeling of wonder can give children meaning in a sometimes chaotic world, building a sense of “rightness” and resilience from which they can draw in the years to come.

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