TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment in a series based upon the book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens.” For the first installment, click here.
When we speak of resilience, what exactly do we mean? Kenneth Ginsburg, author of “Building Resilience in Children and Teens,” defines it as the capacity to rise above difficult circumstances, allowing children to exist in this less-than-perfect world, while moving forward with optimism and confidence.
Indeed, today’s world can be a frightening place — illness, death, divorce, crime, war, natural disasters, and terrorism. But keep in mind that yesterday’s world was a frightening place as well.
As we grow older, it seems as if the haze of nostalgia paints our childhood as perhaps more idyllic than it actually was. Growing up in the 1970s, I lived in fear of being kidnapped by a serial killer or perishing in a nuclear holocaust; the Vietnam War and Watergate also cast a pallor that was inescapable, even for the pint-sized version of me. Given just how impressionable children are, we need to parent with perspective, love and understanding, rather than in ways that might foster fear, paranoia or cynicism.
Despite our best efforts, it is also not possible to protect our children from the daily stresses of life either. However, we can provide them with the tools they need to respond to the challenges and adversities of life. Children and teens need to develop strengths, acquire skills to cope, recover from hardships, and be prepared for future challenges. They need to be resilient in order to succeed in life.
Toward that end, Ginsburg has defined seven crucial “C’s” to help develop our children’s resilience: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control. We will explore these concepts in more depth over the next seven weeks.
Before delving into each of these concepts individually, it is also good to note what Ginsburg considers to be the bottom line, underpinning the whole path toward resilience: Young people will be resilient when the important adults in their lives believe in them unconditionally and hold them to high expectations.
However, he is quick to point out that unconditional belief is not blind acceptance. It means that we are not going anywhere and our love is a constant stable force from which children can draw security and confidence.
When we speak of “holding a child to high expectations,” it does not refer to demanding high grades or athletic excellence, although it is reasonable to expect a good effort. Rather, it is about always expecting your child to live up to the core values and essential goodness you know lies within. Children who know the important adults in their life, (parents, teachers, clergy, coaches, etc.) always see the best within them will live up to those expectations.
Next Time: Developing competence.
Teri Andrews Rinne is the children’s services librarian at the Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave., Truckee. Call 530-582-7846 or visit www.mynevadacounty.com/library.