Issue No. 6 | August 27, 2014

School time is kicking off across the country and the excitement of a new school year means that parent's will have a new opportunity to teach and watch how well their children respond to their year of learning.

Building resilience in our children means that we want them to be challenged. We don't want them to have the easiest teacher but the toughest teacher who will test their mental, social and physical intelligence.

As parents, we can help our kids learn how to deal with these challenges in ways that will help them to succeed beyond their school years. Teaching your kids resilience strategies today will bear fruit well into their adulthood.

Here are some ways to help them deal with their school stress:

  • Build a plan: You know how you and your boss build a professional development plan during your annual review every year. Do a similar exercise with your kids. Clarify expectations and write down goals in a documented manner that you and your child can go back and review during the year.
  • Identify possible pitfalls: If your kid had a hard time with math last year, it will probably be tougher this year. Talk about what might go wrong and identify possible remedies that can be put in place to help out. While you might have tutoring as an option, you can also think about setting realistic expectations so that a B is okay for that class rather than shooting for an A.
  • Celebrate success: Look for small victories from the start and make a deal out of them. Success and optimism is like momentum in a sports event. The tide can turn slowly or dramatically but once it does, it builds on itself.
  • Look for that first tough challenge: Stay connected to your child's school experiences and if their mood starts to change you may be seeing some early school stress. Talk to them about what is happening and reinforce the idea that school is suppose to be a challenge and ask them how they plan to respond to it. Be a good listener and let them come up with their ideas first.
  • Create an environment of support: I'm always amazed at how sports teams always have inspirational signs throughout their locker and training rooms. At Notre Dame, the sign says "Play like a Champion Today" Whether you use signs or words, let your sons and daughter's know you believe in them. That will help them to believe in themselves and that is a key to being resilient.
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