“Parent's Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens”

Posted Apr 25 2012


Last week, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, held sessions with U-High juniors, school counselors, and parents.

Dr. Ginsburg is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The theme that ties together his clinical practice, teaching, research, and advocacy efforts is that of building on the strength of teenagers by fostering their internal resilience. His goal is to translate the best of what is known from research and practice into practical approaches parents, professionals, and communities can use to prepare children and teens to thrive.

Parent Jennifer Rhind, who helped coordinate the visit, summarizes some of the key points of the evening parent presentation:

  • One of his most important messages to parents is to fall back in love with our adolescent children—to continue to do what we've always done, catch them when they are being good and redirect them when they aren't. Kids need to know that whatever happens, their parents are there for them and love them.
  • While we as parents want to forever protect our children from failure and disappointment, instead we must teach them, in a positive way, how to cope with life’s inevitable stressors and disappointments; how to be competent and confident.
  • Parenting is not about raising an 18-year-old who goes to an elite college—it’s about raising a 35-year-old who has strong character, is creative, wants to keep learning, contributes to society, and will be authentically happy and successful.
  • Resilience is a mindset—the ability to overcome adversity; the capacity to bounce back.
  • Young people will be more resilient if the important adults in their lives believe in them unconditionally and hold them to high expectations (not perfection—no one is perfect and no one is good at everything).
  • Parents need to let kids make their own mistakes. The most important thing is to praise the practice of trying (not the achievement itself).
  • Give kids more and more independence when it is earned by their display of responsibility.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published two of Dr. Ginsburg’s books, A Parent's Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings, and Less Stress, More Success, which focuses on getting into college while remaining socially and emotionally balanced.

His books, Building Resilience in Children and Teens and Letting Go With Love and Confidence, will be available for $15 at the Blaine Paperback Bookstore

Additional resources are on the PA website, and the slides he used during his presentation are on Parent LabNet (you will be required to login.)

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