The new edition offers two new chapters—one on sleep and one on how to best parent kids with anxiety. Click here to read a review of the edition of this book.
Ellen Braaten and Brian Willoughby have worked with thousands of kids and teens who struggle with an area of cognitive functioning called "processing speed," and who are often mislabeled as lazy or unmotivated. Filled with vivid stories and examples, this crucial resource demystifies processing speed and shows how to help kids ages 5 to 18 catch up in this key area of development. Learn how to obtain needed support at school, what to expect from a professional evaluation, and how you can make daily routines more efficient—while promoting the social and emotional well-being of children.
Read a review of this book. This practical, easy-to-read book explores the basics of parenting gifted children, truly giving parents the "introductory course" they need to better understand and help their gifted child. Read a review of the book. We can build their resilience. Resilience is being able to bounce back from stress, challenge, tragedy, trauma or adversity.
The great news is that resilience is something that can be nurtured in all children. During times of stress or adversity, the body goes through a number of changes designed to make us faster, stronger, more alert, more capable versions of ourselves. Our heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, and adrenaline and cortisol the stress hormone surge through the body. In the short-term, this is brilliant, but the changes were only ever mean to be for the short-term.
The stress response is initiated by the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for our instinctive, impulsive responses. From there, messages are sent to the brain to release its chemical cocktail including adrenaline and cortisol to help the body deal with the stress. When the stress is ongoing, the physiological changes stay switched on. Over an extended period of time, they can weaken the immune system which is why students often get sick during exams , the body and the brain.
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Stress can also cause the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain to temporarily shut down. The prefrontal cortex is the control tower of the brain. Sometimes not having too much involvement from the pre-frontal cortex can be a good thing — there are times we just need to get the job done without pausing to reflect, plan or contemplate such as crying out in pain to bring help fast, or powering through an all-nighter.
Then there are the other times. When this happens, the physiological changes that are activated by stress start to reverse, expanding the capacity to recovering from, adapt to, or find a solution to stress, challenge or adversity. Children will have different levels of resilience and different ways of responding to and recovering from stressful times.
They will also have different ways of showing when the demands that are being put upon them outweigh their capacity to cope. They might become emotional, they might withdraw, or they might become defiant, angry or resentful.
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Of course, even the most resilient of warriors have days where it all gets too much, but low resilience will likely drive certain patterns of behaviour more often. Absolutely resilience can be changed. Resilience is not for the genetically blessed and can be strengthened at any age. One of the most exciting findings in the last decade or so is that we can change the wiring of the brain through the experiences we expose it to.
The right experiences can shape the individual, intrinsic characteristics of a child in a way that will build their resilience. A little bit of stress is life-giving and helps them to develop the skills they need to flourish. Strengthening them towards healthy living is about nurturing within them the strategies to deal with that adversity. In the context of a loving relationship with a caring adult, children have the opportunity to develop vital coping skills.
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This will ensure that the developing brain, body and immune system are protected from the damaging effects of these physiological changes. Anyone in the life of a child can make a difference — family, teachers, coaches — anyone. Increase their exposure to people who care about them. Social support is associated with higher positive emotions, a sense of personal control and predictability, self-esteem, motivation, optimism, a resilience. Anything you can do to build their connection with the people who love them will strengthen them. Children will often have the idea that being brave is about dealing with things by themselves.
Let them know that being brave and strong means knowing when to ask for help. If there is anything they can do themselves, guide them towards that but resist carrying them there.
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Strengthening their executive functioning will strengthen the prefrontal cortex. This will help them manage their own behaviour and feelings, and increase their capacity to develop coping strategies. Some powerful ways to build their executive functioning are:. It also strengthens the connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala.
When this connection is strong, the calming prefrontal cortex will have more of a hand in decisions and behaviour. See here for fun ways that children can practice mindfulness. Anything that gets kids moving is stellar, but of course, if you can make it fun that pretty much grants you hero status. Nurture that feeling in them — that one that reminds them they can do hard things. When they have a sense of mastery, they are less likely to be reactive to future stress and more likely to handle future challenges.
Keep going. The brain can be rewired to be more optimistic through the experiences it is exposed to. If you have a small human who tends to look at the glass as being half empty, show them a different view. Acknowledge their view of the world, and introduce them to a different one. See here for more ways to nurture optimism in children.
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Teach them how to reframe. The ability to reframe challenges in ways that feel less threatening is linked to resilience. Reframing is such a valuable skill to have.
To build this skill, acknowledge their disappointment, then gently steer them away from looking at what the problem has cost them, towards the opportunities it might have brought them. For example, if a rainy day has meant sport has been cancelled,. What can we do because of the rain that we might not have been able to do otherwise? Let there be ridiculous ideas too. This will let them push past the obvious and come up with something that is beautifully unique. Maybe we could paint ourselves with mud, or wash the dog in the rain, or make a bubble bath out there and wash ourselves!
Imitation is such a powerful way to learn. Without pitching it above what they can cope with, let them see how you deal with disappointment. Bringing them into your emotional world at appropriate times will help them to see that sadness, stuckness, disappointment are all very normal human experiences.
When experiences are normalised, there will be a safety and security that will open the way for them to explore what those experiences mean for them, and experiment with ways to respond. I just have to keep trying and be patient. Facing fear is so empowering within the limits of self-preservation of course — staying alive is also empowering but to do this, they need the right support — as we all do.
Kids can be fairly black and white about things so when they are faced with something difficult, the choices can seem like only two — face it head on or avoid it at all costs.
But there is a third option, and that is to move gradually towards it, while feeling supported and with a certain amount of control. See here for the stepladder, which explains how to edge them gently and safely towards the things that challenge them. Let them know that the courage they show in doing something brave and difficult is more important than the outcome. Age-appropriate freedom lets them learn where their edges are, encourages them to think about their decisions, and teaches them that they can cope with the things that go wrong. When they take risks they start to open up to the world and realise their capacity to shape it.
It is in the precious space between falling and standing back up again that they learn how to find their feet. Of course, sometimes scooping them up and giving them a steady place to be is exactly what they need to find the strength to move forward. The main thing is not to do it every time.
Exposure to stressors and challenges that they can manage during childhood will help to ensure that they are more able to deal with stress during adulthood. Meet them where they are. All of us experience emotional pain, setback, grief and sadness sometimes. Feelings always have a good reason for being there, even if they can feel a little pushy at times. The key for kids is to learn to respect those feelings even the bad ones , but not let them take charge and steer towards trouble. Sadness and grief, for example, can make us want to withdraw for a little while. It is during the withdrawal that information is reflected upon, assimilated and processed so that balance can be found again.
If this is rushed, even if it is in the name of resilience, it can stay as a gentle rumble and show up through behaviour, sometimes at wildly unexpected times. Research has found that children who have a growth mindset — the belief that people have the potential to change — are more likely to show resilience when things get tough.
See here for the step by step on how to nurture a growth mindset. What you think matters — it really does. If you believe they have it in them to cope with the stumbles along the way, they will believe this too.
We will often feel every bump, bruise, fall or fail. It can be heartbreaking when they struggle or miss out on something they want, not because of what it means for us, but because of what we know it means for them.
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Self-talk is such an important part of problem-solving. Your words are powerful because they are the foundation on which they build their own self-talk. Rather than solving their problems for them, start to give them the language to solve their own.