Ten Ways to Foster Resilience in Your Child/Adolescent

By Chris Chiochios, MFT, ATR-BC, Site Director at JLS Middle School
I attended the “From ZZZZ’s to A’s” event last Thursday evening and was thinking about all the different issues, worries, and concerns being discussed.  I had wanted to attend this event to hear Dr. Amy Saltzman talk about the issue of mindfulness and how it relates to the struggles and concerns that were of interest on that particular evening.  Mindfulness, as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, refers to “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. I think that this is often one of the most challenging things to do as a parent.  It is what we want our children to do on some level.  Paying attention often means investing our focus and energy, which usually has positive benefits.  However, there is often more to this picture.  Life is complex and rarely happens in a straight course.  We all, including our children, take on certain messages, embody certain temperaments, and need certain things at different times.  What is often the case is that “the problem” and “what is not working” become the main focus of our attention and endeavors.  This can become the primary way that we relate to our situation and experience, whether it is for us personally, at work, in our families, with our partners, and, especially with our children.  I was introduced to a book titled, “Raising Resilient Children- Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Childby Robert Brooks, Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D. some time ago, which proposes a nice set of principles, or as the authors refer to, “guideposts”, which are geared towards parents interested in developing and nurturing a resilient attitude in their children.  These 10 principles include:

  1. Be empathic
  2. Communicating effectively and listening actively
  3. Changing “negative scripts”
  4. Loving our children in ways that help them to feel special and appreciated
  5. Accepting our children for who they are and helping them to set realistic expectations and goals
  6. Helping our children experience success by identifying and reinforcing their “islands of competence”
  7. Helping children recognize that mistakes are experiences
  8. Developing responsibility, compassion, and a social conscience by providing children with opportunities to contribute
  9. Teaching our children to solve problems and make decisions
  10. Disciplining in a way that promotes self-discipline

As with everything that comes along in the course of being a parent, this approach requires patience, practice, perseverance, and mindfulness.  What can come from this is someone, who has the capacity to bounce back from difficulties, learn from their mistakes, trust that they can find a way to make it work, and depend on others in their lives to be available to understand, problem solve, or try to understand what they need and how they can be best helped.

Adolescent Counseling Services is a community non-profit, which provides vital counseling services on nine secondary campuses at no charge to students and their families. To learn more about our services please visit the ACS website at www.acs-teens.org or call Roni Gillenson, LMFT, Program Director at (650) 424-0852 ext. 102.  ACS relies on the generosity of com-munity members to continue offering individual, family, and group counseling to over 1,500 individuals annually.  ACS provides critical interventions and mental health services, building a better future for tomorrow. If you are interested in helping to support our efforts, do not hesitate to call to make a donation. It goes a long way in helping teenagers find their way!

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