How can we raise children who are resilient and able to bounce back from the ups and downs of life and move forward with optimism and confidence? In this episode, we talk with Dr. Ken Ginsburg, the Co-Founder and Director of Programs at the Center for Parent and Teen Communications, a Professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and The University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, and author or “Building Resilience in Children and Teens” and “Raising Kids to Thrive”.
In this episode, we cover:
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Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Foster Care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I'm the host, as well as the director of creating a family.org. And you can find tons of information for your adoption and foster care journey on our website, creating a family.org. One of my favorite topics parenting topics to talk about is resiliency. It is such a hopeful topic. It's such a powerful It feels like as a parent, it is something that we can actively do to empower our children and to strengthen our kids. And I just I love that topic. We often talk about trauma, but in this case, we're talking about the things that we can do to help our kids and not focus on their deficits. So today's topic is raising resilient kids. We're going to be talking with Dr. Ken Ginsberg. He is the co founder and director of programs at the Center for parent and teen communications. He is a professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. He is also the author of building resiliency in children and teens as well as the book raising kids to thrive. He is one of my favorite experts in this field. This is a re air of a show we did a while back, I loved it so much, then it has truly been one of our most popular shows. So we're bringing it to you again, enjoy. Welcome Dr. Ginsberg to creating a family I am so looking forward to this. I'm so glad to be here and having this discussion with you. This is resilience in general and how to raise resilient children. I don't know if it's it's, it's beyond a buzzword. But it is certainly something that I know as a parent, I have spent a lot of time thinking about and creating a family, we have a huge online support group. And it is a subtext for so many conversations that we as parents have, really, regardless of how our kids join our family, be it through birth adoption, or foster care. So I guess we should start by saying, How do you define resilience? So we all know that we're talking about the same thing.
Resilience is being able to bounce back from challenges. But I look at it a little bit more broadly. Because it's not just about bouncing back. It's about being prepared to get the most out of life during good and challenging times.
Yeah, because we know, we know that our kids are going to have me it doesn't mean that we do with all the right things, our kids will never experience problems or never experience adversity. You know, I think if every parents
kind of could push a magic button and bubble wrap their kids, they would do it.
Yeah, I were to you know, if you could wrap them in a downy quilt, and just make life picture perfect. But let me let me say a couple things. First, you can't, it's not possible. So the best thing you can do is to make it so that they can navigate life with whatever curveballs they're thrown. But it's more than that. You know, when we think about who we want our kids to be, we want our kids to be kind and compassionate and giving and forgiving. We want people to see human tragedy, and rather than avert their eyes to want to be part of the solution, that's who we want. And the reality is that if we're going to build those kind of young people, we can't shelter them from the world. The world's there. The question is, how do you navigate and how do you grow from it? How does your idea of resilience fit in with the idea of success? I think a lot of parents
confuse the two or they're thinking in terms of, well, any number of things. They think in terms of what my kids to be successful, or I want my child to be happy. How does all of those kind of nebulous ideas fit in with the idea of resilience? So I think resilience is a piece of it. But let's go back to what authentic successes because that's really what you're asking. Yeah, and you're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. Parents look at you things, is my child happy? And is my child doing well in school, because of the belief that if my child does well in school life is gonna be handed to them on a silver platter. These are short term issues. You got to be parenting the 35 year old, you've got to be looking at the child in front of you, and imagining them as a 35 or a 50 year old because things look differently, right? So happiness to your four year olds easy to give them a cookie. It's too easy. It's too easy. Happiness is a 35 year old is it's having a sense of meaning and purpose in
in your life, it's knowing that you matter. It's knowing you have relationships, and you know what?
Having a cookie doesn't help you survive difficult times. But if we redefine just happiness, and understand that it's a sense of meaning and purpose, and having meaningful relationships, that's also the ingredient that's going to help you bounce from difficult times. So I could go on and on about all of the things, the ingredients, we need that 35 year old to have. But I just wanted to underscore for you why happiness is not in the moment, is not your goal, your plan for meaning and purpose and satisfaction throughout life, that's going to give you long term happiness and let you bounce. You know, one of the things that parents who, who come to parenting through adoption or parenting as foster parents, one of the hard things that they often face, when it comes to your issue that you raised about academics, and doing well in school, there is a fear there, because oftentimes, our kids have come to us with a deficit either they have, they've come to us as at an older age without having had the foundation academic foundation being laid. They come to us sometimes through international adoption, they come without having our the language, the language, the basics of our language, late children may come to us with prenatal exposures, which has caused brain damage, or trauma, which can absolutely impact their ability to learn. And we see our kids really struggling in school. And there is something that you where you think, Oh, my gosh, they're never going to succeed. Because you know, they're barely reading in their 12. Or, you know, they're there, they're flunking out of school, so they're gonna end up dropping out, how will they ever succeed? And it's a, it's a fear based approach, oftentimes from parents, and it's hard for them not to focus on the academics.
Yeah, so raising adolescence, in general is a fear based.
If you if you Google, how do I talk to my kid, the word most likely to come up with is survival. And I want you to know how much I reject entirely that approach to adolescence. I think adolescents are amazing human beings, amazing. And I also want us all to celebrate the possibilities in youth. So it is true, I heard you and I know that people can have been through difficult times, I work with kids who have had the most difficult lives imaginable. And I know that that changes so many outcomes and the way you navigate the world, I know that, I'll tell you what else I know, I know that the presence of a loving adult alongside of a young person is the most impactful and meaningful thing in their lives. Number one, number two, I know that even when young people are navigating the toughest of times, the presence of that adult helps buffer their experience. Number three, I know in the about the potential of healing. See, development is on our side, right. And the brain, even though is changed through experience. And it is heart through deprivation, the brain is also plastic, and the opportunity for it to grow and change and reshape when there's a loving adult, a nurturing adult alongside you, is profound. So here's the thing, I'm not gonna lie to you rate, no parent can undo the past entirely. No amount of love can undo tremendous harm, but buffer that harm. And, yes, make it so that it's less impactful, I'd stake my life. And there's a whole literature behind it right? And experience. But also, we can make a difference. I can't guarantee that your kid's going to end up exactly where your dream, but I can guarantee that your loving presence is going to get him closer to being his best self, someone who cares about himself and cares about others, I can guarantee you that.
Yeah, and how you define success now at for your child at 12. And 13 is going to change and grow as they grow. And we often don't realize that when we're stuck in our fear based approach, when our children are younger. Yeah, it's also critical because remember, what we're doing is we're launching kids into adulthood, right? And so it's critical that as they launch into adulthood, they have a sense of confidence. Right? And that might mean looking for another source of success and intelligence other than academics. Of course, we want to optimize academics. Of course, we want our kids to do well in school. All we really want to do is launch them into adulthood feeling good about themselves, not because we've showered them with false praise.
But because we've authentically seen all that is good and right, we've seen what they bring to the world we celebrate, we elevate that. And then our kids are going to be okay. Even if
academics is not their greatest strength. Yeah, yeah, Amen.
Let me pause for a moment to remind everyone that this show is brought to you by the generous support of our underwriter, the jockey being Family Foundation. Their mission is post adoption support. They want every adoptive family to thrive. And one of the ways they do that is through their, their jockey being family backpack program. They want every new newly adopted child have their own backpack and it comes with a bear and a blanket. And most important a parent tote some information for their parents, for being the best parents they can be in the newly adopted child is eligible for this program. If you are a parent and listening to this, go ask your agency to enroll and the jockey being just go to their site, Jacobean family calm and go to that site, enroll in the backpack program. It's super easy, it is free to your agency, and it is free to you. So pop over there and let your agency know about this. Alright, so let's now talk about how to foster resilience in children. So you've talked about the two fundamental principles of building resistance in our kids. And I am a person who loves to have things simplified. So when somebody tells me two principles that just speaks to my heart. So what are the two important things that we need to know if we're trying to build resistance? What do our kids need? So we're building resilience, you slipped and said, resistance. So that's not what we want. Right? Everybody? I am struggling with this now. So yeah, you're exactly right. resilience, not resistance reason, because I'm to tell you something, I can tell you how to build resistance to and it's by doing everything wrong. But you want, we want to build resilience. And there are two things. And I'd love to really dive deeply into both of these if you're okay with Sure. The first is loving without condition. And I really want to talk about what that means. And the second is holding to high expectations. And we have to understand what both of these ideas really mean to do them well. And I think that they have in many ways, a very special reason to be fleshed out and understood for the parents who are listening to this podcast.
Yeah, absolutely. So let us dive deep, because I think this is it is so crucial to know, to really focus on both of them. So what do we mean by loving our children unconditionally? I mean, it seems easy enough to think about, but But what do you mean by that? It's actually very hard. It's really a process. It's not an event. And the first thing we have to understand is that when we're saying unconditional love, we're not saying that your kid can come home doing drugs, and you're like, that's okay, darling. That's not what it is, you're allowed to not like and disapprove of the behavior. And when we say unconditional love, it's really important to understand that we're not saying like, right, especially when you're welcoming a new child into your home, there might be some behaviors you really don't like, there might be some attributes of a child, or my God, your spouse, or even yourself that you don't like. Liking is hard. Because it's so subjective, right? Loving is this active process, I see loving, as seeing someone as they deserve to be seen, as they really are not based on the behaviors they might be displaying, and not based on a label they might have received. But as they really are the most protective thing in a young person's life. And this is going to get to expectations. But the most protective thing in a young person's life is to be seen to be known to be valued in all of your goodness as your best self. And that is so important that we work hard to see that. And for the people listening to this podcast, who might be fostering someone who might be adopting a kid who's had a hard life. Let me tell you, those kids often come with labels. They often come with labels that in my mind are unfair and inaccurate. And they're labels that are put on a kid because of what happened to them, but it coming out in their behavior. So they're, they're given a behavioral label stop that see the kid is they deserve to be seen understand why that behavior is happening that will change that kid's life is if we can see kids as they deserve to be seen in this way and the uncondition ality. It's really about being unwavering in your presence, that matters.
For every human being, when you are going through like there isn't anybody is going to navigate middle school and adolescence without having some people saying they're not good enough, or they're abnormal or they're not fitting in a parent's job is to say, You're okay, just the way you are, I adore you, I cherish you just the way you are. But for parents who are adopting a young person or welcoming a foster child into their life, they have to know that they're going to be tested, they're going to be tested. And the way to pass that test is to be unwavering in your presence, unconditional in your love. And that's not always easy. But by Gosh, it's what matters. Yeah, our children often come to us with behaviors that have worked in their past. They are compensatory behaviors they are, but they're, but that doesn't make them just go because we understand where these behaviors may come from, doesn't make them easy to live with, at all? Of course not. But the question is, how do you change it to make it so kids can self regulate? Which is what makes it easier for them to live with? And I'll tell you what isn't going to work? What isn't going to work is saying, This kid has this label? And therefore I know the answer is for me to control them, for me to just like, sit down the solid, solid rules. Do you want rules? Of course you do around safety? Do you want guidance, of course you do around morality. But for kids who have had the hardest lives, what they need, is to be seen and to be valued. That's what's going to make them feel safe learning self regulation. So what makes it hard for them to live with you is because they've been through so much, that they're always scanning the environment for danger, or for rejection. And when they sense danger, or rejection, they lash out, they're always they may not have had control over their life. And when we try to control them, by put by telling them, I'm the adult, you'll do, as I say, that just reinforces their powerlessness. What they haven't had is someone who sees them who knows that. That's what protects my daughters. That's what you protect every child. So yes, they might be hard to live with in the beginning, while they're testing you, while they're not knowing safe when knowing if they're safe, while they're not knowing if they can have any control. But give them the time and offer the security. And then remember this self regulation is something that is learned and practiced. It's not something you have, the absence of being able to regulate your emotions is not a character flaw. It's the you haven't had the opportunity. When we give kids the opportunity to learn to regulate in a nurturing and loving home. That's where things get easier. Mm hmm. So now let's talk about the high expectations.
What do you mean by that? I mean, should we be expecting high grades? Should we be expecting?
obedience? What do you mean by high expectations? Well, thank you so much for asking it that directly. So do we expect high grades? Well, that's an unrealistic expectation, right. And I would say the same thing to the mother who has a child who's always gotten straight A's, I would say to them, and who has never had a hard day in their life, I would say high expectations is not about grades. It's not about scores. It's not about trophies. It is about effort. The most you can kind of demand of a person is that they put in an effort, because an effort is how you learn what is your strengths? And what are your limitations and how to overcome those limitations. But you can't be demanding a result because people are uneven. And learning how to be your best self is a process. It's not an event. So we care about an effort. But we are and we also care about obedience. But can I tweak that word a little bit mad permission to play with words? Sure. What we want is for kids to be disciplined, being disciplined. The word discipline, you know, has the same route as disciple. It's about learning. It's about being able to be guided ideally, in a loving way. Obedience is about control. I want my kids to be disciplined, so that they can learn self control. So it's not about obedience to my demands. It's about learning to navigate the world with self control. And because you're learning it, my job is to keep you safe. And because my job is to keep you safe. I'm going to determine where you can fall down, where you can make mistakes and where you can't stray because it's a safety issue.
You. And for a safety issue you'll do as I say, but the biggest issue around high expectations we discussed under love rate, I expect you to be your best self. So these two things go completely together the most protective thing in my daughter's life, they're now 24. Right. But when they were teenagers, you know, we had our moments, but the most protective thing in their lives was that I saw them. I knew who they were in all of their goodness, in all of their commitment to pleasing me and to making the world a better place. And when they strayed away from their better selves, the most powerful tool I add to bring them back, was that unconditional love.
Yeah, you know, you raise a point that, it seems to me that and I speak as a mom of four as well. And so my house is made of glass a bit on this. But I think that sometimes we parents are afraid of our children to allow our kids to make mistakes. Because if we were being honest, we're afraid that their mistakes reflect on us. Oh, there were two really important points you just made you just really hit a homerun with that second, right. Um, so yeah, we're afraid to have our kids make mistakes. But remember this, you know, there's so many different phrases from so many different cultures, you know, I think there's a Japanese phrase that says fall down seven times get up eight, right? That's a great one. The idea is that with each time you learn and you grow, we learn about our unevenness, we learn about our strengths, and we learn how to recover by falling down. And we don't build resilient kids when we don't let them fall. Because you know what, here's the reality, you're not gonna be able to watch them all the time. Yeah, better, they should fall under your watchful eyes. Right? Better, they should fall under your watchful eyes where they can learn to get up. And and learn the lesson. And you can reinforce that lesson. Now, the other piece, you said, Wow, that was a doozy. Thank you for that honesty, right? You're like you're saying like, part of the reason that makes us uncomfortable with kids failing is because it's a reflection of us. And I'm guessing that in some ways, you might have to double down on that statement for parents who are such extraordinary human beings, that they're opening their homes, to kids who have been through difficult lives, right. And we really kind of measure our own success by what the kids under our roof, how they perform. And that I think is part of the problem with with fearing kids falling down is that it becomes a reflection on us, when in fact, the bigger reflection on us is whether or not they learned to get back up on their own.
Yeah, I could not agree with you more. And I say that with with sympathy of knowing the and there are times when people do judge you, but it's I think it's important for us to realize what are I like the point where you said about our long term goal is to be raising 35 year olds, or 55, or whatever. I mean, that is our goal. And if you take that long term approach, it takes some of the pressure off of the perfection in the short term. Absolutely. Because if you're parenting the 18 year old, you're always gonna be thinking like, does he know not to run with scissors? like do I teach him that and when you're parenting the 35 year old, you realize that what you're trying to parent for is someone who has values, someone who knows what he's worth, someone who can
who cares about other people, and they're capable of, you know, performing loan the workplace and becoming a father or mother or a lover or a friend. And, and it means that we're really trying to teach them to be good people while they're under our roof. And teaching someone to be a good person is actually easier than teaching someone to get straight A's, you know, and it has a much higher yield.
This show is brought to you by the partnerships we formed creating a family with agencies that believe in our mission of providing unbiased accurate education to both adoptive parents pre adoption and post adoption and foster parents again, both before they Foster and then during while they are fostering. One such agency is children's connection. They're an adoption agency providing services for domestic infant adoption and embryo donation and adoption throughout the US. They also perform home studies and post adoption support to families in Texas. And we also have spent shaping. They are a licensed accredited nonprofit organization in the New York City metro area that's been offering adoption services for more than 100 years. They have a very robust poster
adoption services providing to all forms all parts of the adoption triad birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees that really does set them apart.
Right? We are talking about raising resilient kids with Dr. King Ginsburg, we are, we have talked about in the past about the unconditional love and high expectations being some of the principles to developing resilience. Now, I want to talk about the seven key ingredients of building resilience and our children. So it's, they have a handy acronym, it's the seven C's, which is helpful. And I kind of grouped them but feel free Dr. Ginsberg, if you want to separate them, I thought maybe it would be helpful. Let's talk about connection and control. Or we could talk about them separately. But let's start with those two C's.
And I'm assuming connection is the reason I chose that to begin with is that's a topic that as adoptive and foster parents, we talk a lot here at creating family about creating attachment. And when you have a child from birth, which can of course happen through adoption or fostering as well, you have all those beginning years to build this connection. But if you adopt a child that 810 612, whatever 16, you know, you have fewer years to develop some of these connections. So let's talk about let's start with connection. And then we'll move into control as to the first two C's for the ingredients for Billy for building resilience. So starting with connection is actually a good place to begin. Because that is the most important ingredient of resilience for all young people, no matter how they meet their parents, right.
And it's what we already talked about, really more than anything, it is about knowing you're cared for and about without condition, that there's someone who has an unwavering presence, someone who has a desire to both develop you, and to protect you, from yourself and from the environment. But it's also you know, there's a lot of tricks to it. In the sense tricks is probably not a good word. But there's a lot of strategies on how to do it. I build connections with you, not the connections of being a parent, but connections with young people all the time. It's about listening, really listening to people and letting them share who they are with you. And seeing them in the best light. That is a really powerful way of building a connection. And we also have to understand how to maintain connections. Because to some extent, it really is about caring deeply without reacting to every statement. When you react to every statement, you're unintentionally creating judgment. Perfect example, Mama met this girl, you're too young today. Mom, my friend Paul is using drugs never hang out with Paul, again. Those are examples where this was an amazing opportunity for you to share your adult wisdom without judgment, but instead, you jumped in, right? So we can undermine our connection with overreaction. We can also believe it or not undermine our connection with praising in the wrong way. Let me give you an example. Now let's talk about those kids. So again, I'm not talking about the babies you adopt, or the children you have naturally. But if a child comes into your life, at an older age, whether it's early childhood, or whether it's adolescence, that child more than anything wants to know they're in a stable relationship. And if you ask them as I have 1000s of times, what is the most important thing that they're they need in adult relationships, they say, I need someone who has my back.
And that means they're going to be there even when times are rough. So let me give you a communication tool, a real simple one that can literally change your relationship. So someone comes to me, for example, and says, Hey, Dr. Ken, I got straight A's and I go, I'm so proud of you for having A's Look at you. I'm so so proud of you. You worked so hard, you can become a doctor. Then what happens is the next time that kid gets A's, I'm gonna know about it. Right? The next time after that that kid gets a raise. I'm gonna know about it. But when that kid had something devastating happened in their life, they weren't sleeping well.
They fall asleep in class. They're getting C's and DS owned ever No, because I praised the content of why that person was talking to me. And that's not the best way to build a connection. Let's flip the script. Instead, someone says, I got straight A's. And I say, I'm so glad you always include me in your life. Thanks for letting me know, the meta message there is tell me what things are going well. But by the way, I'm always there. And then you're going to know when the kids messing up to. And once a kid trials that a few times and learns that you're there during good times. And during challenging times, you're not going anywhere, you're going to give advice for you and honor their intelligence that connection builds. Okay. So that's the first C, which is connection. And, and we have two more actively cultivated, I think when when our children are coming to us at an older age.
And that's a great suggestion of how to do it. The second C is control. And that's a hard one, because the truth is, sometimes our kids, will all kids do this. But kids, again, who are adopted in older age, are behaving in ways that make bring out the control freak in a lot of parents. Yeah. So here's the great news. The great news is that well, actually, let me back up before I say the great news. Here's what we know. We know for the kids who have had hardest lives control is a big issue for them. Because they haven't had the ability to control their own destiny, to even sometimes control what happened to their bodies. Right. So it's a really big deal. So we've got to do this right. Now, let me get to the good news. The good news is we have research since 1963 1963. That's like almost how old I am. Right? There is solid research on how much control parents should have over their lives over their children's lives. The balancing act between expressing love and warmth, and being demanding, controlling, and having rules and boundaries. And there is so much research. So if you come to parent and teen.com, you will learn so much about being a balanced parent. So when I parenting this way, and I say you'll do what I say why Because I said so lots of control, lots of rules, not very much warmth. What kind of kids does that produce that produces kids who are very, very good and proper, until they rebel, which is in mid adolescence, in terms of outcomes. Those kids don't have very good relationships with their parents. They act like they're listening to them in front of their face. But in terms of risk behaviors, they engage in a lot of risk behaviors. Some people went equal and opposite. And they went to permissive parenting, darling, I love you so much. You know, I I didn't have a good relationship with my dad, I want to be your friend call me can. And I'm going to give you good opportunities to to be role models, but trust your gut, do what you say, do what you want. That's permissive parenting. Those kids are incredibly neurotic because they're so scared of disappointing their parents, they engage in lots of risk behaviors, and they never tell their parents about things that aren't about
then you wouldn't tell a friend, if you're not going to please your parents. If they're not going to like you not going to tell them. The worst kind of parenting is neither controlling nor warm. It's kids will be kids, they'll figure it out. Right? You do not have a single parent listening to this podcast who has that style, because they wouldn't be listening to you. They wouldn't really care enough to be listened to hear, right? Yes.
But that kind of parenting that works best is balanced parenting, I call it lighthouse parenting, parents. You should be like a lighthouse on the shoreline, a stable force for your kids to measure themselves against, look down at the rocks and make sure they don't crash against them. Look into the waves trust that they're going to learn to ride them one day, but prepare them to do so. The balanced parent is warm and loving, and has rules and boundaries. It's I love you so much. But I'm not your friend, I'm your parent, and that's way better for you. I'm gonna let you make mistakes. I'm going to be there as you learn to stand up for the things that really matter and those things that involve your safety, you will do what I say. And if it involves your morality, we're going to talk about it because my job is to raise a good human being balanced parenting. You have less drug use, you have later for sexual experiences, less bullying, less violence, my own research
half as likely to be in a car crash, right? You have better academic outcomes. And most importantly, let's tie back to that other sea connection. You have the best relationships with your parents, because kids want parents to be involved, not to be controlling your personal life, but to keep you safe and moral kids want that.
And they respect that ultimately. Absolutely. Yeah. All right, that leads well into the character and contribution. And I must say, I, personally am so thankful that those two, we don't talk about that enough. It feels to me the and I think that is so important. Again, when you're thinking about who's the 35 year old? Who am I raising? What type of 35 year old do I want this child, this child that I'm raising to become? We want them to be people of good character and who are contributing to our world. So let me stop, let you talk. So talk to us about character and contribution. Character couldn't be more important, right? You think of character as what would you do if nobody was watching? Right. And so having a good character, at its core, is about being your best self, and being committed to to being a good person for others as well, right? It's everything. And if we raised a 35 year old, who's going to have integrity, who's going to care about other people, and who's going to want to contribute to the world, which brings us to the next C, right, we've done a really good job, we have to double down on character development, we have to understand that it's our job to raise kids who are who are moral and who are caring. And in this world, that is a fairly complicated world. It's in our homes, that we have to really be talking about integrity, and honesty, the importance of justice, the importance of caring for and about others, and respecting differences, these are the things we have to be talking about in our home. Because the public world isn't always talking in this way. So give us an example of how to as parents, how to how to talk about or how to instill character in our children, you just said one, which is talking about it. So that's which bring it out into the open and talk about what are some other ways that we as I want you to understand how much this all ties together, you use a really interesting phrase you said, talk or instill. So let's do instill first, because instill is so much more important than talking, right? Telling a kid they ought to have character? If you're implying they don't have it is no good. How do you instill it? So let's go back to what we talked about when we talked about love, seeing a person as they deserve to be seen as they really are, and all of their essential goodness, we instill it by noticing it, congratulating it, magnifying it, and we instill it by modeling it. This is one of those cases where words matter less than what you do, right? When you are a good person, when you care about other people, when you are helping the lady across the street because she just lost her husband, or because there's been a terrible snowstorm, and you're checking on her. You don't have to say to the child, this is what a woman of good character does. You do it, they notice, and they notice something else. They noticed that makes you happy that you're not doing it because there's PD or their shame, they noticed that it makes you happy. That's how you do it. And then you have conversations, but the conversations happen when you notice all that is good and right in the world. And you call out when things are not good. You know, we live in a world where we love gossiping, and talking about the people who are messing up. But we forget to act to notice the acts of loving kindness that surround us. Our heroes are people who are, you know, intensely wealthy are beautiful are great athletes. How about letting our heroes be our teachers? How about letting our heroes be the woman across the street? Who takes care of her mother with Alzheimer's disease? How about noticing those people who serve and give when we do this? We re instill what real good character is.
All right, and then contribution is, is it seems like it is so well tied to that. But let's talk about it separately. It's totally tied to it right? It's about wanting to make the world a better place. But let me tell you how it's tied to resilience. You know, the ultimate act of resilience is to turn to another human being and say, Sister, I need a hand. That's the person who survives
Right, you don't survive on your own. That's not a not talking about the worst, God forbid of times, but the worst of times, you don't survive on your own. you survive when you can reach, then the question becomes what allows you to reach and what allows you to reach is knowing there's no pity on the other end. This is especially I hate to be to make any gross statements about gender, because they're always wrong. But this is especially true between men, right? Men don't like to reach out to other men, because somehow they see it as display a weakness, when in fact, it's the greatest display of strength possible. And what is it that's going to allow me to reach it's when I know there's no pity on the other end? What is it that allows me to know there's pity no pity on the other end, when I've given when I give, and I know how good it feels, then when it's my turn, I can receive.
So I see contribution is almost like, almost like preparation or an immunization, for when life gets hard.
You know? Yeah. Yeah, I absolutely do know. And we model that as well as parents, I would assume. Absolutely. We might everything there's like, there's literally no nothing you can say to me that I'm not gonna say modeling is best. Let me point out one other thing, you know, how we talked about how adolescents are held to low expectations, and how so many people think of adolescence and then they think of the word survival? Let me tell you another reason. I want our children out there contributing, because it's going to make them be surrounded by gratitude rather than condemnation. It's going to earn you those eyes. That lady across the street who you shoveled versus No, guess what? She's gonna be looking out for your child. She's gonna be she's gonna be baking him cookies.
Protective, so protective. Yeah, amen. And I will say, I so agree with I think we as a society has such a negative attitude about adolescents in general. And, and adolescents are just it I think it's just the greatest stage in the world. I really do. They're there. They're so full of life and, and curiosity. It's, I agree with you. Now let's talk. Let's move to the fifth C which is coping. What do you mean, by coping? I mean, is that the bounce back part you're talking about? It's not coping is not just bouncing back coping is absolutely about preventing risk as well. Remember, we talked about surviving, or thriving, excuse me, thriving through good and challenging times. So life is hard. And because life is hard, it can make you uncomfortable. The question becomes, what are you going to do with that discomfort, that's what coping is. And there are negative ways of coping. But they work really well. taking drugs, for example, in the moment is a fabulous way of coping, but it is so destructive. It's literally only good in the moment. But it is so destructive in the long term, even because it increases more stress, because it destroys your life
do is raise kids with a wide repertoire of positive coping strategies, so that when life gets tough, they'll know exactly where to where to turn to positive, life affirming community building, internally strengthening ways of coping. Great news for you is that on parent and teen calm, we absolutely prepare parents on how to build coping strategies and kids. And we have four teams themselves an interactive tool that will allow them probably anyone starting at nine or 10, I might do it with your child, if they're nine or 10, but to build their own coping plan, so they will know a wide variety of coping strategies, because let me tell you a little secret, telling kids what not to do around drugs and things like that is not your most effective means of drug prevention. It's telling kids what to do when life gets hard. And that's where it ties into resilience. So this is an interactive tool that they that parents and teens are parents and children of all ages. Can Well, you said starting around nine or 10 with a parent. Absolutely. So it's on parenting team comm on the tab under fourteens. They can build it themselves, they'll learn so much. Okay, excellent. And we will link to that in the show notes as well. Great. All right. Now, let's talk about I think this will be the final two C's and that's competence and confidence. Yeah, yeah. So
yeah, so those are tied together as well. So he really did a very nice job of grouping that
Right. So confidence we used to think was about self esteem. And we used to just shower kids with praise. You know, you're especially a butterfly, you're unique as a snowflake, looking at coming down the sliding board, you're so brave, right? Without giving kids an understanding that gravity was helping them, right, it was all about the kids. That wasn't the way to build confidence, confidence is needed. self esteem is valuable. Confidence is what allows you to kind of take the chances in life that are going to make you succeed. But confidence is built through existing skill sets. It's it, that's where competence comes in. When I noticed what skills you have, I build upon them, I noticed what skills you don't have, and I helped build them for you, or with you, not for you with you, then I did, then you're going to like earn confidence, it's not going to be something I just said to you, it's going to be you're going to actually have the confidence because you know what to do. That's skills in human communication, it's skills in knowing how to navigate peer pressure, IT skills and knowing how to study, right, there's so many different kinds of competencies that a human being needs to have, that will make them successful, and build a real sense of internal confidence. And in our job as parents is, if I'm hearing you correctly, is to notice the things that our kids are doing well, the things that they're there and their competencies, and then to give them opportunities to build more. That's absolutely correct. But I just want to point out that I also said, noticing their deficits, and and then filling them in as best you can. People are going to be uneven, but you build upon everything that is good and right you celebrate it. But you also notice where they need to learn. And you focus your energies on filling that hole to whatever extent possible. And that's and so that it's in summary, the three these three, listen to me, the seven crucial C's are competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control.
Yeah, and so let's talk a little about how trauma impacts those seven C's, when the children come to us, and our children's have built a ability to be resilient. Right. So
we've actually talked about it a lot. And I'd like to underscore it in this particular context. So I've been working with Street and homeless youth for about 35 years on through a covenant house. And so I've worked with some of the most traumatized human beings on earth. And at its core, if you're going to look at which of the Seas trauma always hurts, trauma hurts human connection, because it means that the people we're supposed to protect you didn't. And it also affects your sense of control, because you weren't able to protect yourself. Right? So, so that are big challenges. The question is, how do you heal? you heal? By understanding all that is good and right. You know, when I tell people what I do in terms of working with Covenant House, they, you know, congratulate me for being a good person, and then they walk away because they don't know how to do the second sentence, right. But what they're missing is that I actually work with the best kids on Earth. Can I tell you the science behind it? Actually, I'd love for him to walk. So yes, these kids are reactive. Yes, that's true. And they act out sometimes. But they're also the most compassionate human beings on earth. Right? If my car broke down, I want my Covenant House kids to be out there. Because they're going to stop for me, let me tell you what's actually going on. You can look at this on two levels. You can look at it on a spiritual level that people who have had hard lives often want to prevent other people from having hard lives, but even from a scientific neuro anatomical level. In other words, the brain when you are have been traumatized, even in infancy, the part of your brain that is reactive, which is the called the amygdala, or the limbic system, is extraordinarily brilliant. You have a brilliant image. And that means that you can see danger before other people do. You're always scanning the environment, expecting things to go badly, right? And you're brilliant in this way. And the danger is that sometimes you'll see danger that's not really there. Right? And you'll go off when you shouldn't. What I teach kids is
They have protectors brains, right? Their brains have learned to protect themselves and others, right? And they're always scanning for danger. And they're also always wanting to protect themselves and others. And if I was on a desert island, I'd want them with me. It's like a superpower. They're challenging life is to figure out when to keep their cape tucked in. Right, because they see dangers other people don't see,
including some that aren't there. Well, when we know that, and we know that their reactivity is not about us, their reactivity isn't directed, even if it's directed towards us, it's not about us, that allows us to be stable, to be calm, to co regulate with them, our calmness will teach them that the environment must be safe, then what happens is their brilliant amygdala stops firing danger signals, but it remains brilliant. What else is the amygdala for it is the root of all emotions, including human compassion. And that is why the people who have been through the most, when we surround them with messages of safety and security, are the most lovely human beings to walk the earth. And that is why I'm the luckiest guy to work with them.
What a beautiful way to end this this interview and such a hopeful way. Because when we talk about children who have experienced trauma and abuse and neglect, we so often don't recognize the beauty that is in them in the in the capacity to heal. Yeah. Amen. Amen. Amen. Yeah. Let me remind everyone that the views expressed in this show are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of creating a family, our partners, our underwriters. Also, keep in mind that the information given in this interview is general advice to understand how it applies to your specific situation, you need to work with your adoption or foster care professional. Now I know everyone is going to want to get more information about Dr. Ken Ginsberg. He is a first of all, I highly recommend his books. He's written quite a few and you can get more at his website, but more information about the books on the website. But I also want you to go to this website, parent and teen.com. Lots and lots of really good information there. And including some that Dr. ginsburg told us about earlier about interactive that you can your teens can do on their own or can work with it through you. So again, that is parent and teen calm. So pop over there you can see more of the resources they have, including the books on resilience, as well as teens and living and loving teens and all of that. Thank you so much, Dr. Ginsberg, this has been terrific. I I'm really honored that you were here because I love your work. And I love your philosophy. So thank you. Well, it was a privilege talking to you and I mean that very genuinely. Thank you
Transcribed by https://otter.ai