What are the 7 essential character traits that parents can teach their children to increase resiliency? In this episode we talk with Dr. Michelle Borba, an internationally renowned educational psychologist and author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.
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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family Talk about Adoption and Foster Care. I'm Dawn Davenport, your host as well as the director of creatingafamily.org. We are not just a podcast, we are a podcast and a website and a nonprofit. So you can get all of our free resources by going to our website, which is creating a family.org.
Today we're going to be talking about how to raise a child who will thrive and for those of you who have been long term listeners, you will know this is a topic that I am absolutely fascinated by and I am so happy today to be talking with Dr. Michelle Borba. She is an internationally renowned educational psychologist, as well as an expert on parenting bullying and character development. And most important, She is the author of a book called Thrivers The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine. Michelle, welcome to Creating a Family I am so looking forward to talking with you today.
Oh, Dawn, we are so in sync in terms of our missions and what we are all about for kids. Thank you for the invitation.
You know, so often when we talk with our demographics, our parents that we really focused on what your adoptive parents, foster parents, kinship parents, we focus on the trauma that our kids have experienced because and that's important. But I feel like we do a disservice that we don't also focus on our kids resilience. And I it's really a passion of mine, that this topic is of how do we help our kids thrive? So I am so happy to be talking with you about the mental health and the thriving pneus of our kids? Yeah, I think that's the way we need to do and refocus. Because, look, we knew that our kids were struggling prior to this pandemic, then came on certainty and 15 months of doom and gloom and what we have learned, if anything, we're raising our kids in a very uncertain New World, and they're going to need a new new skill set. Resilience is learned. thrivers are made not born. So that means every one of us can make a real difference on our children. I love that resilience is taught thrivers are made not born. That is because it empowers parents. And I think that so often I worry that we did not descend not intentionally, of course, disempower but, but I do think that we as parents sometimes just assume you know, they're going to be what they are. So however, let's start by the fact that you do paint a picture in your book thrivers of teens, tweens and young adults who are stressed, anxious, depressed and lonesome. Why are kids experiencing this? Well, the fascinating thing is, I saw the stats, and you've seen the stats, and every parent has seen the stats. And the key question is the why. So I decided to ask, I interviewed when in doubt, ask. And if you want to really know something, you ask a teen, and you ask them in a manner that they know that they're not going to be judged and their name isn't going to be used. But why are you so stressed. And it wasn't one factor. But it Keith and many of them said was they didn't have the skills to be humans, they were raised more like test scores or was so competitive, it was a product. And they were really concerned about how do we relate with others, they said, we're not relating to each other as well as we used to, we're looking down, not up and then came the pandemic. So the first thing is we do know that the kids haven't changed, they still have the same needs, they need to be safe, they need to feel they belong, they need to feel competent, but in addition, that they need to be able to figure out how to handle life. And the one thing done, I've discovered about thrivers. I don't care where they are, and I've worked on six continents around the world, what the one thing I've discovered about them is that we do know that they have a different skill set. And they can overcome if they have a caring champion adult who refuses to give up on the child, but they also need protective buffers. And that's what we want to teach is what are the winds that are the most highly correlated, that will help a kid not only be a peak performer or a more certain of who they are in life, but also to be able to handle life.
Absolutely, you know, there the Harvard center for the developing child has, I don't know that they came up with a quote, but I read it there. And so I attribute it to them. And that is and this will be a paraphrase. But for every child who succeeds is had one a caring adult, one person in their life, who has who cared about them. And that is and that's important for for all of us to remember because again, it empowers us. But for you you actually have had synthesised the characteristics of what makes kids thrive or what helps kids thrive. But before we do that, I wanted to talk a little about the couple of things before we jump into it. One the importance of play. If
You see that so often now we are kids aren't don't have the opportunities to play. And there's probably a zillion reasons why. But anyway, let's talk some about first at the importance of play. One of the things that I discovered along the way and when I was researching this book is that too often we counter what actually builds resilience. Now, in all fairness to us, we love our kids desperately. And we want them to be successful in life. But the ordinary Little things like play and mud and sand and dirt and open the door and go outside kid are actually what we do know help kids decompress. Now, it could be for a teen a 20 minute walk in the nature, it could be a bike ride, it could be a walk, it could be a sandbox, but one of the things we're looking at in schools is that we're reducing recess, because we want more time to help them do prep test. And we look at the most literate countries in the world, Finland, that's the top of the pack. I was I spent three years working with the Ministry of Education in Finland. homework is not 5000 hours, homework is done mostly in school, go home as a teen and take time to just decompress. So their stress levels are lower. What we we do i think is counter it. So maybe the first thing is, look at simple things that are evidence based. And maybe the first thing is look at your kids calendar, is their time to just open the door and enjoy your own company. And if they don't know how to enjoy their own company, then planet because we're looking at a lot of kids with the little ones, mother Mae eye jumprope, all those things we did as kids, we do know actually boost self regulation as well. So they help kids focus longer. They don't cost a dime. But let's look at things that do help. And maybe the other thing is, take a moment to say does your child know how to enjoy their own company, if not, then go out and start playing with them or take walks with them. Maybe it's take the garage and build it into just with the garage sales of things that are weightlifting for your team, buying things that attract your son or daughter so that they can find ways to decompress. And that could be play could be part of the agenda. And I do think sometimes that that adults need to get out of the play. Let the kids play with each other, let them set their rules. And and, and I don't we used to think of play as you know, the kids who go out and play a game of pickup football or baseball or alar, whatever hopscotch. And now we think of play as well. They've got soccer, they've got soccer practice, yes, they've got the you know, they're they're going to be doing Taekwondo and then bullet ballet. And while those are also good for our kids, that's not exactly play, especially as they get older. And the emphasis is more on in result winning and progressing upwards into you know, more advanced legs and things like that. So, alright, let's also talk about the importance of sleep at the beginning. Because I want to get to I think these two things are really important. And then we're going to jump into the seven essential characteristics. But let's talk quickly about sleep, sleep, and again, an ordinary thing. It's part of all of our lives from the dawn of the beginning of humanity. But what we have realized we fail to realize is how critical it is to helping our children thrive or just boost their mental health. The other thing that's a red flag that we get to keep in mind is that all the new research has said that the last 15 months of looking at screens for our kids have actually even though they're hunkered down at home, reduced their sleep patterns. So instead of in we would think oh my gosh, now they have more time to sleep. They're actually the opposite. So maybe the first thing on this one is as the school doors are opening up or as summer starts to come in or whatever time of year, you're listening to this, start getting your kids back on a timezone that's their timezone and stick to it, particularly during weekends. We also know that those little things called digital devices, you know, it robbed them of sleep pattern, so start tuning and turning them off at least 30 minutes, because that actually robs REM is a parent of a team go out, they actually do that there was like a counter revolution in the house, she finally discovered the simplest ways to do so. She just turned off the internet at 10 o'clock at night. It was amazing and helped her as well as their kids. So yeah, find what works for you, but stick to it as a routine and a ritual because mental health needs are just really escalating with our kids. And one of the things that helps our kids in order to thrive is sleep. And we just talked about play to simple ordinary things. Excellent. Now you have identified through your research, and through your discussions and and with with teens and adults as well. Seven essential character traits of children who will thrive and not
I would say this is not just children who look good in childhood, you know, who get into the best schools who get into the best teens, but truly thrive into adolescence, but also into adulthood. So let's start with the first one. And the first one you've identified, the first character trait is self confidence. So what's the difference between self confidence and self esteem? We've certainly been, you know, haven't hammered into us that we want our children to have a good sense of themselves a good self esteem. So what's the difference between the two? I think it's really self confidence is looking at a quiet inner awareness of who I am. Acceptance of my weaknesses. Yep, I'm not so great at math, but I'm really good at art. It's understanding my who and not what mom and dad want me to become. And we now know that's actually the foundation to thriving. Because when you have that solid awareness,
or when you the parent had that solid awareness, oh my gosh, the difference it can make. Now sometimes it's not so easy. And again, I started out as a special education teacher with kids with severe emotional difficulties and learning difficulties. I also worked with grasp units and foster care parents, and one of the most amazing moments was on the grasp unit, which is the gang prevention unit. And they were dealing with the kid who they just brought into juvenile court. But what the one grasp unit guy did the head of the unit said, Go back to his bedroom and find out what this kid is good at. And they looked at him like, what is it No, go back and find out what he's good at. And don't come back into my office until you know, because that's where we're gonna start from. He said, all of a sudden, I heard this clean, clean, clean, clean, clean, they were coming up the stairs, dragging something. And the all of the officers walked in and said, We found it Look, they taken off his headboard to him, his bed, flipped it around, it was absolutely gorgeous, artistic strengths that were phenomenal. The officer said, that's where we start, we start with his art. Instead of fixing the kid, we got to start with what the kid is good at, that gives him that inner strength, it doesn't mean we're going to stop helping them with the map. But we're going to start with the who they are. And that becomes our parenting plan. I love that. And again, we it's natural. As parents, we see what our kids are poor at, we worry about them. We know where their struggles are. And we focus on that and and there isn't anything fundamentally wrong, as long as you balance that by equal focus on where they shine, and they will do shine. Almost every kid you can find something in fact, I will say every good you can find some Oh, absolutely everyday. And let me tell you another one on this one. This sometimes when it comes to self confidence, you've got to make sure that you start in a foundation of trust, security and safety and then build the strength example, Dawn was a gamble exam, same name as you dawn, but she was a child who had really gone through absolute horrors of horrors, living in a home and now a parent wants to adopt her and bring her into her home. And she goes into the court and the judge says, you know, this case this kid is is just hopeless. I don't know what you're going to do. The mother said, Oh, no, she's not telling me what she's good at. Once again, she said it. They let her know that she was good at art. She put her in the car to drive her home. And she said, I understand that you're fabulous at art. And the kid went ballistic. She started shaking the window, shaking the car to the point the mother thought she was going to have a you know, wreck the car. She pulled over the side and realized I'm starting to high of a level. And her messages from that moment on was, hey, you're safe now. We'll put a door a lock on the door. You're going to be in a place where I care about you. I'm not giving you up. I am refusing to give up on Yeah, let's start with knowing you're safe. And then she started with the art. But the most amazing thing is about four months later she went back to the court the judge could not believe the change in the child. He demanded that everybody in the court stand up and give the mother a standing ovation. He's never seen a change. What did you do? He says I started with security and trust. And then I started with the child's natural strength and everything else began to fall into place. Hmm, that's beautiful.
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When we talk about self confidence. We think of parental prayer praise, but because we're parents parental praise, how does parental praise factor into teaching self confidence? The first thing is what Ohio State says is we do it a little wrong. In that, what we do is, of course, we want our kids to love themselves to death, but we praise too much. And instead it backfires. So the kid becomes more self absorbed, you're better off if you do something, do praise and do acknowledge, but maybe the first step is walk around your house for the next week with a three by five card and figure out what the child legitimately is good at. It probably isn't what you're good at. But what is this kid good at? What do they gravitate towards? What brings them joy? Where is there more tenacity, a little bit more effort involved in whatever it could be woodwork could be knitting, could be reading, it could be music, by the way, all of those are hobbies. Those are fabulous, because we know that they actually help kids decompress. And every kid told me that it was a thriver said, that's what I go to. Now, what do you do? Once you discover the strength, the first thing you may want to start is with earshot praise. And that is instead of praising the kid directly, very often, the child who is so low in self confidence will rip up the art. They don't think they deserve it. Instead, what you do is you tell your parenting partner without the kid knowing they're supposed to be ease dropping, Oh, my gosh, you should see her art. She's absolutely amazing. You would be so thrilled to see your art. But don't let the kid know that she's supposed to be listening to you. Yeah, that's one thing you could begin to do find one little nugget, that's a true nugget and do begin to acknowledge it slowly until the child begins to internalize the praise themselves. Did you remember to tell yourself, you did a great job on that praise the effort of it not the end product, meaning Oh, my gosh, you got the a plus or that? It's just incredible. Did you go out on the good work board? Yesterday, you were here, while the longer you hang in there, you're getting better and better. Because drivers have agency dawn, they realize I got this not Mommy's going to do it for me. And as a result, that control slowly starts to build until this child begins to believe in themselves. So what are some ways to teach self confidence? So you've mentioned one, and that is the overheard compliment that ensues helps a child recognize their self confidence. So what are some other ways that we can teach our children self confidence? ask why. And that is as your child is doing something as why they enjoy it. What is what's the strength in that particular area? That'll help number two, many parents are going oh my gosh, she doesn't have any strengths. They're hidden. And it's difficult. But one thing you could do as a family is just introduced family holidays. That just means out or as a week, that could be this week, we're going to take up knitting half the kids may hate it. One kid may love it. But what you're trying to figure out is what the joy in the child is. Once you discover the joy, maybe great an Hattie is going to come in and do a zoom lesson on knitting. Grandma's going to do a zoom lesson on baking. Uncle Fred is going to do woodworking, maybe that's the way to begin to figure out what does help the child what they seem to enjoy. And then look at their calendar and say, am I carving in time me, maybe there's a club or a Boys and Girls Club, or a YMCA or something that can nurture it. Many of our kids have been social distance for so long. Maybe you can find one like minded parent who has similar aged kids, if your daughter seems to science to like yoga, and that begins to be her strength area, then maybe find another parent with a similar age child and you can do it together. So you're not only building social competence, you're also building the strength competence. It's a slow gradual process of trying to find the nugget of one dad said I listened and listened and listen to my middle school kid. And all he did was talk about wolves. I mean, you start to get worried when your kids talking about wolves. But I decided that I was going to finally take him to the park, a national park and having just talked to a national park ranger. And that was the time I sat there with my mouth open for 45 minutes. I couldn't believe how much my kid knew about wolves. I'd sidetracked at all. I was just undermining my kid's strength. And that was the moment that I realized, stop trying to push him into law. This kid is in the biology and that was my aha moment to figure out I got to start going with my kid is follow his lead. That's the whole secret of it all. Alright, the first character trait was self confidence. The second essential character trait of thrivers is empathy. Why is empathy so important to resilience? It's a superpower. We had no idea how much of a superpower it is. But for instance, every one of these traits identified after looking at longitudinal work of some of the most mind boggling funny
nominal researchers in the field of resilience, me Warner looked at hundreds of kids growing up in the island of Hawaii with extreme adversity. And she discovered that just 10 years into it, my gosh, 1/3 of them were bouncing back. They were caring, competent, and overcoming the adversity, why? One of the things she discovered is that they had so close competence, not that they were the most, most popular kid, please don't go there. But they, they had the ability to find someone who could nurture them or ask for help, they had some kind of social connection abilities. So your first little simple idea on that one is the gateway to social competence. And empathy is started practicing the three most highly correlated traits of popular kids well, like children. Number one, they say hello, when they they wave. You can't smile right now with a mask. But you could still model Hello. And Hi, because many of our kids have been physical distance for the last 15 months, they're not practicing that until their anxiety levels are going up. The second thing is they also encourage each other, you watch a football game and say wow, look at that team and how they encourage one another are get the Chutes and Ladders games out and say, hey, let's play by the rules. But remember, you got to encourage each other at least three or four times like a thumbs up or a hi fi. And the last thing that they do watch kids who are really more comfortable with each other, they don't look down, they look up. So maybe make a rule always look at the color of the talkers eyes. That's really tough for an introvert. But if you say just I had one kid named Alfred, he was so threatened by that. So I said outright, just look between the bridge of the kids knows he'll never know the difference. If you look down, you won't be taken seriously. If you look up or look at a dot right here on the kid's forehead, maybe that's where you could look. As a result, they begin to look more confident, which is the first trait. But the second thing, they now had the entry point to empathy, which is starting to feel with the other person. simple little skill sets dawn, we can just start teaching our kids by modeling them. It's not okay, it's six o'clock, let's learn social skills. But let's go the store and have them watch you wait, have them watch you with your walk, say hello. And they'll start picking that up. And another thing on that is helping them understand how other people show emotions. Yeah, there's wonderful books out, you know, with pictures of children, and you had help, and you show that and what do you think he's feeling? What do you think she's feeling that type of thing, which also, we forget something that's that's really, really powerful. Empathy is feeling with another person. But children who were in trauma very often shut that down. Because if you're in stress, you can't feel with another person, you got to take care of yourself. So don't assume that your child doesn't have empathy, when they don't look at or they have that drawn look in their face. They're trying to just take their self together and put themselves together, but start talking emotions far more. Because that's another gateway, we do a far better job says Yale with our daughters at age two than we do with our sons at age two. Just start talking, hey, you look sad, or watch inside out with your kids. Look at how angry they are. Oh, wow, he's scared. Have you ever felt like that? When you start with how would you feel? What would you need? later on? You can flip it with what does she feel? How does she need? What does she need, you can slowly begin to build empathy. And the gateways are just those beginning social skills and feeling emotions that you can talk about. How do you think our modern technology is impacting our the empathy of our children? Oh, I'll tell you right now, what university of michigan says empathy has dropped in American kids 40% since the year 2000. Now you should go back and say ouch is out when you go back and you say what the heck happened in the year? 2000. I think that's when they became very connected. Yeah. And they look down, not up and back to the kids. I interviewed 100 of them. I said what are your biggest concerns? I can't tell you how many teens said my biggest concern is my younger siblings. They don't have the ability because they're they're getting those cell phones too early. All of them said parents need to be stricter. Can you imagine him saying that to you? Wait a minute of the ferret. I know they're saying that their parents need to be stricter with their younger siblings. I have four kids Trust me. The I never heard them say I was not strict enough on them. But their younger siblings definitely apparently with some type of pushover never will hear them say mom, you should take my cell phone away. Yeah. But what it's fascinating one kid said, you know, and this was a peak performing kid. We're not doing so well. Our counselor is now bringing in Guide Dogs so that we can learn to relate with the dog. Can you imagine that? We don't know how to read each other. So she
Helping us learn to read with emotions with a dog so we can transfer it to each other. It is a red flag that we all need to be aware of. So just tune into it because it's very disturbing. Yeah, that Yeah.
The study report you just said was really disturbing.
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Alright, that we've gone through the first, the first two of the seven essential character traits, one self confidence to empathy. The third one is self control. So how do you define self control in the child? Other than you know, they're not hitting, pitching or throwing massive? Oh, there you go. Yeah, you go. My standards are low. Yeah. But aren't we all at this point? All of our self control? Isn't that kind of damaging? It's really a thriver has the ability just to put the brakes on impulses so they can think straight and self regulate? Is that easy? Absolutely not. Because when you're stressed, what you discover is that it very quickly can build and that's what's happening to our kids. It's very quickly building into anxiety. And we're seeing with our teens, it's very quickly that anxiety is going into depression and suicide ology. So let's look at this dawn, because I worked in a lot of places, but by far the most mind boggling turned my life around moment was working on army basis. I was working there because I was training asex counselors how to help kids with post traumatic stress, because the parents stress was filtering down to the kids in rapidly deployed areas. And that's very concerned with our military children. But all the commander said you should talk to the navy seals, the most elite forces in the world, we're retraining them, because they're dealing with some pretty darn adverse time. So I don't I, I interviewed them and said, Okay, guys, what are you doing differently, and they said, three things that you should teach kids. And we practice and practice and practice and practice, in calm moments, until we can do it. Step one is we identify our stress signs, you can't calm down unless you know what your sign looks like. And everybody's looking different. We help each other figure out that right before you know some guys get stressed, we go like this with our hands and put it into a fist, or we grind our teeth or we walk back and forth, or we can feel our our hearts start to be faster, or we can feel this flush going up into our cheeks. I'm saying lots of different stress signs, because every child responds differently. Maybe step one in this is Watch Your child for the first week, or three weeks or however long it takes and identify what they do before the meltdown. And you'll see the same predictable pattern, by the way with some kids who really irritable track it, track it with a calendar, because they're not stressed 24 seven, what are they most stressed? And what what are their signs that look for? And then what are the triggers that are causing it? If you write write it down, don't let the kid know you're tracking it. But maybe it's three o'clock every day, or and that's the time the little guy missed the nap. Or maybe it's 10 o'clock in the morning only on Wednesdays what's going on 10 o'clock on Wednesdays. That's the zoom time test, you'll begin to zero in on Oh, that's what's causing it. Now you can help the child handle Okay, let's work on those those multiplication facts a little more. But the second thing is how can your child learn with their stress sign is without timeout. Have you noticed that right before you get stressed you do you put your hands into a fist or you go like this because your palms get a little sweaty, then what you do Navy SEALs say number two is we tell ourselves one thing inside our head, like chill out, or breathe or Calm down, or I got this or what many teams say relax. One word only. And then third thing is you teach them a one to breath, which seems to be according to the navy seals, the fastest way to rewire your brain. It's got to be deep and slow from real deep in your abdomen, like you're riding up an escalator.
Then you hold it while you keep saying yourself, relax, relax, relax, and you slowly let it out. The exhale is twice as long as the inhale. Is that easy? Absolutely not. It's going to take you quite a while. But if you just do that, maybe this month in your family, and you keep modeling and over and over again. There's great apps that kids can also put on their phones that are mindfulness apps, you help your child choose the one that works for them. But the key that many of the teams told me is we got to practice this stuff.
It's got to turn into a habit, you know, you don't learn it in a worksheet, you got to keep doing it over and over again. So in the heat of the moment, we've got something we can use to help us stay in control.
Yeah, important. All right. The fourth is the fourth of the character traits of kids who are resilient, or thrivers is integrity. How do you define integrity? integrity is a child who has a strong moral code. He understands what he stands for in terms of the value system and is able to stick to that. Now, you may wonder, what does that have to do with resilience? Let's just look at our teens for just a minute. A big piece of of challenges for a teen is going to be peer pressure, or being sucked into doing something that they know is the wrong thing to do. What happens to a thriver? Is that because they've internalized here's who I am, and what I stand for, when push comes to shove, and that challenge comes in their way. And it's not all moral challenges. Some of them are mental challenges, some are physical challenges, but the integrity piece is a moral challenge. The kid goes, Nope, I'm not going to because I know what I stand for. You got to know that before the challenge comes. So step one, maybe the easiest thing for every parent is to just take a moment and say, Hey, I do make a difference in my kid, because conscience ism doesn't happen when our kids are born it forms. Now, what are the values I want to see in my child, maybe they're in my house for a month, and maybe they're in my house for the rest of their life. But however long they're there, what are the most important values I want my child to adopt? And write that down? Because you'll find ways to weave it in the greatest. The Greatest Story was, in each time I wrote each one of these chapters, I had visited a school and interview the teachers that every one of them for integrity said go interview me a done. She's absolutely amazing kid she's overcome some a real adversity, but for some reason that kid got integrity. That's unbelievable. So I found me and done and I said, Okay, every teacher is talking about your integrity. How'd you get that way? She laughed, and she said it was how I was raised. And I said, Oh, please do tell how we raise me. She said age six. My parents pulled us all into the family room. Chart paper was on the floor with marking pens, my dad said sit down. We're going to try to figure out who we are as a family and how we want to be remembered as a family. What matters most to us. Mom's going to write down the words nothing matters. It's like whatever you say it's going to be written down. But is it honesty or respect or responsibility or kindness or there's 400 virtues that have been adopted through time and in a very short amount of time, Don, the chart papers were filled up and dad said, Okay, now we vote. Whatever comes up with the most votes wins. Our last name was done. We chose honest honesty. I said, Well, that's easy. How would you be how'd you remember it? She said it was impossible not to first of all, our mantra became the honest Dunn's. And the second thing is my mom must have said it 50 times a day. She dropped me off at school. Remember where the honest does we'd be watching a movie like Dunker, wow, they were really honest Dunn's when we were disciplined. Should we begin with that and honest, dumb thing to do? My parents said it so much we became I think that's the piece. Repeat what you want your kids to become. Because in today's world characters kind of lying dormant. And our kids are picking up the opposite values out there in social media from some of their friends from adults behaving very badly. And so as a result, we've got to do a little bit better work and be a little more intentional with it. And pay attention. Obviously, it's going to use the word and what I'm hearing you say is we can't just assume our kids will pick it up through osmosis. We have to bring it to the fore be intentional about it. Fascinating. Okay, great. The fifth of the seven essential character traits of resilient kids is curiosity. I love this one. And it was one I wouldn't necessarily have Oh have put in so yeah, you and me when I gone to this one actually became my favorite chapter chapter five, because I would not put it on the plate. But once I dug into the research on resilience, here's what we know about a thriver. They all kids are going to face with a challenge.
But who gets over it? kids who are curious because they have an open minded mindset. They're more open to ideas and possibilities and people so when the problem comes, they go Okay, so what am I going to do about it? Instead of Okay, I'm gonna raise the white flag and I don't know a way around it. Drivers are problem solvers. And how do you begin to help your kid become a problem solver, change your parenting style. If you are always managing and always solving and always
rescuing, you're actually doing your kid a disservice in terms of resilience, because he's not he's waiting to depend on you. As opposed to us saying, You got this, what are you going to do? So simply, what do you do the moment he walks in the door and he's upset, it's your teachable moment, sit down and say what's bugging you, and have him hopefully have a trusting relationship, or he's going to open up, and you're not going to start judging that instead, you say, Okay, thanks for telling me. Now let's figure out what you can do differently, or what else you could have done. And what you do is you teach what Ford says is one of the best skills that you can do for an employer brainstorming. Just storm your brain and possibilities. Every idea counts. There's no problems, though. Great, that can't be solved. And 14 to go, how long do I have to do this sandile get an oven timer, or set up your phone and go for 30 seconds until the until the timer goes off. Let's brainstorm what else you could do write every idea down and keep a poker face because some of the ideas are going to be off the wall. But when the timer goes off, go, Okay. Any other idea that you forgot? All right, now let's cross off ideas, cross off anything that's not safe, wiser, responsible, or part of chapter four integrity, what we don't stand for in this family, cross them off. What's one idea you could do differently, and then you help your child set the goal. So how you're going to do it, when you're going to do it, you brainstorm a little bit about it. And what we've discovered is, the more you do that, teachers do that in conflict resolution in schools all the time, they have problem solving centers, go to it, get the sandile and start brainstorming, but we've got to do is start modeling what you can do instead, family meetings are a great way to do that. Maybe each time you can come up with you know, the kids upset because he's not getting enough allowance. Great. Let's open that up as an issue convinced me that you're gonna have the right answer. Give me the evidence that says why you need it. And what we could do differently next time, what you're actually doing is helping your child develop agency. And that's what a thriver has. And this probably I'm not sure if this ties in directly with this straight and I and I say this, as having lived it myself. I think sometimes we as parents are afraid for our kids to fail because of how it's going to reflect on us that, you know, my kid is the one who is,
you know, is the the one who is still picking dandelions when the other kids have finally figured out that, in fact, in soccer, you're supposed to be chasing the ball, you know, are playing your position in the court, you know, and that, that the fear is that it's going to reflect on me that my kid isn't isn't stellar. Don, I love that. Because one of the characteristics that we have discovered about really creative, curious people. And I'm not saying raised an Albert Einstein, I'm just saying have a kid who's got the ability to handle life and figure out another way is they're open to possibilities, and they realize that one part of life is going to be failure. So I would say please make sure that you announce someplace that failure is an option in your house. Because everybody makes mistakes. What I'm looking for is what are you going to do differently next time. For some kids, they're so traumatized, I see this rise of perfectionism amongst our kids. A simple tip on that one, I had a piano teacher that drove me crazy. His name was Mr. White, why he drove me crazy, is that if you made one mistake anywhere in the piece, you had to start all over again. So any piece, what I would do is hate music, because I would just be so stressed on the failure. And every time I would go, I hate piano. Thank heavens, my mom, I heard Mrs. Thompson, because she had a different Mo, her mo was, let's find the stumbler. Let's find the one little thing that's getting in your way of success. And let's just keep practicing that one little stumbler over and over and over and over to up seeing you're getting better and better and better and better and better. What he was actually doing is stretching the next strength, which is perseverance. by emphasizing. The more you put into the practice, the more effort you have, the more you'll improve. But let's work on that one little stumbler and then boom, your stress goes down. You get over the pike, you realize that failure is an option, but it's what are you going to do about differently the next time that's what a good coach does watch them. They never say give up on soccer, you're never gonna get better. Instead, they pulled the kid aside and said, Let's watch the video. Oh, no, no, no, there's the piece. It's where your foot is, it's going the wrong way. Let's turn your foot this way and kick the ball. See how much better so break down the piece that your child is overwhelmed with. Break it down into smaller nuggets. What's the one little stumbler that's getting in the way I don't care if it's math or science or handwriting or whatever. Let's practice it and practice it and practice it and you're gonna get
On through, and that's going to help your child not only be curious, but also realize the effort is what really makes the success. Well, that is a great segue into the sixth character trait, which is perseverance. So what causes some kids just to give up, I think the first thing is we've got to keep our expectations at a level where they're realistic for the child, not for the other sibling, or for in a classroom, the kid who's over here, or the neighbor next door, I'd say parents think of it as a rubber band, your goal is to figure out what your child is capable of right this minute, and gently stretched the child gently stretch the child just a little bit more without snapping him. Once you snap him, it means their expectation is too high, and he's going to quit and going to give up. And in all fairness, we're going to look at across the country, all of our kids expectations need to be going down a little bit, because their self control and focusing abilities are going to have a lot part of perseverance. You can't focus as well as we used to do when we're stressed. So what the point of all of these seven traits is, there's a multiplier effect. Don, every parent is going to say, How the heck am I going to teach all seven. It's a rare kid that has all seven. So relax. It's a rare adult who has all seven, your jewel is to choose starting with, I would say self confidence. And then look at the one thing that your child needs above all else, I'd say it's it's self control. Because unless we can kick a lid on this stress, we're going to have a problem. But here's the key you need to keep in mind. That was my aha moment. You put any two strings together, any two of these, it multiplies or amplifies their power. So empathy plus perseverance just multiplies the outcome or self confidence plus integrity multiplies the outcome. That's going to be your okay. I can do this slowly, because parenting is a journey. And I can slowly stretch my child's ability.
Yeah. And so from a parent's standpoint, it also praising the effort is encouraging the effort, it seems like that, which is tying it to what you said before. All of the research says this is Carol Dweck from Stanford, she's trying to figure out why some kids are peak performance. And she says one of the things we do wrong is we always ask what you get, did you get 100? Let's put your work on the good work board. What she actually found is that she took a group of kids that were all middle school aged children, all in algebra classes, and all about the same ability levels, two different classes, two different teachers, same curriculum, same abilities, and she kept watching them. And for some reason, one class kept excelling the kids kept going up, the other cast plateaued, and some of the kids actually went down. So what's the difference? It wasn't the curriculum. It wasn't what they were teaching. It was what the teacher was emphasizing. The teacher of the kids who were excelling, and their perseverance was stretching, didn't emphasize how many did you get right? She emphasized the effort. I know it's hard. But yesterday, you were here and today, you're here you're getting better and better. When the kid says I can't get he can't get it yet, sweetie, you're almost there. What we discover is a highly correlated trait of success is effort. The other teacher was always emphasizing Well, you got three wrong, well, you got five wrong, or how many points do you want to get thrivers keep going without the Scratch and sniff sticker and without the trophy, because they realized slowly along the way that it's all a matter of again, agency, how much effort and practice I put into it. That's a different mindset for us as parents, simple little mindset can make big differences. Yeah, absolutely.
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And the seventh of the essential character traits of thrivers is optimism. And that's an interesting one because, you know, I think that we it's it's common perception that that optimism or pessimism are inborn temperaments that we we just come into this world with, is that not the case? Absolutely not. That's the other thing. The fascinating thing is every single one of these traits is teachable. And it was University of Pennsylvania who did hundreds of studies with kids starting at the age of eight, and they found that if a kid at age eight has a why kind of a mindset and a
explanitory kind of a mindset where if push comes to shove, he would be able to figure out how to temper the pessimism, not because to make him a Pollyanna, Don, that isn't what this is all about. This has been a doom and gloom year, okay. And for us to say, Oh, it's just isn't it a wonderful sunshiny day when we're looking at a daily death count. But thrivers are a bit have the ability to find a silver lining. And they also have the ability to keep pessimism intact. What we're finding is that if we're not careful, pessimism becomes pervasive. And one of the biggest correlations to the rise in anxiety, depression and stress. When we're looking at why do some kids drop out of college number one time our kids drop out of college, and the freshman year, first semester, we finally get them there. And we're so excited. They're there. I dealt with 2500, mental health counselors and said, What's going on? They said, once they get their first failing experience, or once they come here, and they don't have the parents of bubble, wrap them or solve the problems, they their pessimism just starts to rise, and they drop out. So what are we going to do, we're going to rewind all of this. And the first thing is back to the navy seals, start you parent modeling an optimistic, just a phrase, one thing like I got this are all get through it, oh gosh, this has been a bad day. But it's okay. I'm strong. If you model that, and you keep saying that your words become your children's inner voice. That's so simple. But that's one thing because now the child has a way to counter it. The second thing that can be so simple, we discovered this is New York University, that the images our kids are watching are going to elevate their optimism or take their optimism down a level to pessimism Okay, get into the shoes of your kid, what have they been watching 15 months has been a daily death count. We're talking George Ford live murder. We're talking horrific kinds of images. So a simple thing that you may want to do that NYU says is go to the back page of the newspaper. There's fabulous stories of teens, they will open your hearts to hope. And they're usually a paragraph about this big. But take the story pasted on an index card and use those right before your kid goes to sleep or right before it maybe that's what you could do as a new habit. around the dinner table. H 90 to hear about that kid, for instance, the kids in Ohio that were so upset about empathy, the neighbor down the end of the street who's 78 all by yourself, mom, she must be so lonely. And they were stressed because their their neighbor was stressed. What are we going to do about it said mom. Well, the kids said I think we should take our cellos down to her porch. We'll social distance mom and we'll do a concert for her on the porch. Precious kids, what was their strength music, they knew it was jello. Their empathy was their superpower. put the two together. They went down and they did a concert had the neighbor come back and take her chair and sit you know, 50,000 feet away. Mom video that put it on Facebook. And it went viral? Who copied it? teens. They said oh my gosh. I can do the same thing and play guitar and oh, in you know, Philadelphia, I can do my my, my trumpet in San Francisco. Sometimes what we need to do is inspire kids by saying here's what other kids are doing. What did you do? Follow your child's lead. This isn't what looks good on a college resume. This is what is going to help your child reduce the pessimism and realize there's hope in the world and I got this I can do something to make the world a better place.
Give your kids agency believe that they can make a difference. Yeah, absolutely. There used to be I don't know that they're still being published. I made a Chicken Soup for the Soul books and they had chicken soup for the teen soul them in the head that a chicken soup for every soul that existed. And we would periodically when our kids got into their later teen years they they felt it was a little cheesy. But we tried when they were tweens in early teens to weave it into either you know right before dinner you sometimes even reading parts of it or summarizing it during dinner. Because it did it was just it was empowering. There. They're extremely empowering. By the way I I'm in three of those books with stories. I know the author's when they first put that book out. The favorite story in that book is perfect for optimism and it just said was 30 Kids Oh, thank you dawn. True story about a little five year old the power of a parent. He's driving late at night with his mom in the car hits a pothole flips them over and over a year his mom ended up at the bottom of a 40 foot ravine. She's seriously injured. She's gotten that that same well in her life to go rocky run up to the
top of the hill because she worries that the truck is going to blow. He does what his mommy tells him until he turns around flips back and goes mom's not with me. Because back and realizes mom's broken both of her shoulders, her leg, she's in tremendous pain. And he starts yelling at her. You got to get out of his truck. Mom, you got it. And she says, I can't Rocky. And he keeps yelling at her mom, you got to tell you've got to try. You got to try. I can't rocky until in total exam aspiration. This five year old puts both hands on his hips turns and says, Don't remember that story. You read me about that little Engine That Could? Mom You read that to me every single night. Remember, all you need to do is say I think I can I think I can almost say it. And what it actually did this precious little guy is start grabbing on to say I think I can he never left her side, she pulled herself up the ravine, she finally gets to the top. And she's rescued. The doctor at the hospital says you owe your life to your five year old. The mother said, I thought that story was so boring. The same thing over and over again. But that i think i can i think i can the Navy SEALs would say that becomes a positive mantra. And that because it was repeated so often to that child became his inner voice until he could say mom say I think I can't. That's how powerful we are. simple little things can make a difference on helping your kid learn to thrive. thrivers has dozens and dozens of ideas. Don't you dare try them or your kid will never let you read another book. So why? What are two ideas and just keep modeling with your kids. And I'd like to end with exactly the point you just there are so many ideas in this book. So I would like to end if you could think of if you could leave parents with five actionable steps for raising a thriver. What would they be? And this is not to say that you shouldn't immediately go out and buy thrivers because you should. But but just for those people who are listening now, what were some five things that you would say begin here. Number one is you've got to have a mindset that this is doable. Too often I talk to parents and they realize, or they think that resilience is not something that's teachable. So start by reading thrivers, or just do a Google search on resilience. And you'll begin to get a mindset that you can do this. Number two is start weaving it into your parenting agenda. I think that the most valuable thing that parents say in thrivers is actually a core asset survey, where you figure out who your kid is. Now, that's five pages. But you can do the same thing at home. And there should be your first step after you say I got a new mindset. Take the three by five cards and just walk around your house and figure out who your child is. What does he gravitate towards? What is he more interested in. And don't try to do this number three on your own. Get another like minded parent or the teacher or the grandparent, somebody who cares desperately about your child who knows your child who you can now network together, we try to do this on ourselves as parents, this is just too darn hard, and it's too lonely. But you can get somebody else to help you. Number four is why you tell somebody else that once you figure out what your one plan is, from all the things we talked about today, Don, maybe there's one idea you want to try, okay, maybe it's I'm gonna walk around the house and identify stress signs, or I'm just gonna walk around the house and say, I got this, I'll be strong. And maybe you're going to start modeling that as your skill. Tell another mom, another woman, the fascinating thing University of Santa Cruz says if you tell at least one other mom or woman, a friend, they become your accountability partner and what they will do every day is that so are you doing it? Are you doing it? Are you trying it. And the final thing is keep doing it a minimum of 21 days, I was up in way far north in up in Canada with Indigenous women who were weavers excellently incredible experience. And we were talking about thrivers and how to help their kids. what they decided to do is bring in a long string of yarn that they had woven. But on an index card. They wrote down the one little skill that they were going to work on that 21 days. And then they attached it to the yarn and attached it to the doorknob. What they were going to do is every day they practiced it. They were going to tie a knot in the yarn until they had at least 21 knots and they said that's my proof that I really tried it and that's when I know it's probably going to start helping my child so that they transferred it and they can do it without me.
Excellent. Thank you so much Dr. Michele Borba, author of thrivers the surprising reason why some kids struggle and others shine. Thank you so much for being with us today and for the audience. Thank you for joining us and we will see you next week.
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