I don’t have children of my own; however, I am constantly around them. I enjoy observing how children are little people with the same wide range of emotions, temperaments, and behaviors as adults. I’ve also learned how challenging raising kids can be. Raising strong, confident, mindful, resilient children is even more so–especially in our “always on” culture that exposes them (and us) to a constant barrage of messages, many of which are negative. Therefore, how we interact with them matters. And getting it right early matters because “in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second…These are the connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend,” says the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
Research-based positive parenting can counter what Frederick Douglas cautioned about in his quote, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” That is why we want to learn from experts in the field and invited Lea Waters, Louisa Jewell, Ryan Niemiec, and Lucy Hone—researchers, authors, positive psychologists and parents—to be a part of our Raising Positive Children: Global Author Series.
We kicked-off the four-part series, along with Beech Acres Parenting Center, and Children, Inc., with Professor Lea Waters. Lea delivered research about strengths-based parenting, shared how she overcame a detrimental childhood, and provided practical tips for raising positive children. A few quotes from our evening with Lea:
We are hardwired to have strengths. Everyone has strengths. Everyone has the capacity for resilience. Your child is stronger than you think.
It isn’t fear of failure that we’re afraid of. It’s the fear of social evaluation.
When we are talking about strengths-based parenting we are talking about a style of parenting that seeks to connect our children with their unique talents and strengths.
When children have parents who use strength-based parenting, they have higher life satisfaction, positive emotions, and better self-confidence.
In February, we welcomed Louisa Jewell who shared how chronic self-doubt once robbed her of her happiness until she realized there are different kinds of confidence. She talked about how to identify and be aware of self-doubt and the importance of raising confident children. Some of Louisa’s words of wisdom:
We are never going to completely get rid of self-doubt. But that’s not a bad thing. A little bit of self-doubt is okay. What you don’t want is chronic self-doubt. That is when you are constantly doubting everything in life.
Self-doubt is socially constructed. Through the socialization of other people, we say ‘I thought I was good enough, but maybe I am not good enough.’
Impostor phenomenon is when you are constantly attributing your success to someone or something. When we never own our own success, we never actually build our confidence.
Defensive pessimism is thinking through all possible negative outcomes so you are prepared to take action to avoid or deal with them.
Most parents think building confidence is about building self-esteem. We want kids to have a healthy self-esteem, but we don’t want children to always be pursuing self-esteem. They will only engage in activities that make them feel good. Sometimes they need to do things that make them feel uncomfortable.
I picture self-doubt as this heavy load that can slow our progression to our goals, dreams and motivation.
Last month, we learned about raising mindful children from Dr. Ryan Niemiec who talked about the 24 character strengths and how mindfulness allows us to be present and savor precious moments. A few glimpses into Ryan’s love of parenting and knowledge about character strengths and mindfulness are captured in the following snippets.
My take on parenting is that … it is an incredible gift that I [get] to be a parent. It’s this incredible privilege. Parenting can also be stressful; however, stress can be an opportunity to learn…to find growth. It can be helpful.
With mindfulness, we are trying to observe what is going on (notice the good, bad, deficits, strengths) but we don’t appreciate it or judge it. With savoring, we are deliberately trying to extend it.
Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention while still being curious.
Character strengths are at the core of mindfulness. These 24 strengths are universal and a common language.
Reframing with strengths allows you to take the negative and turn it into a positive. If your child is stubborn, try thinking of his or her perseverance. Or if your child is wild, he or she has zest, etc.
On Thursday evening, April 19, we welcome our fourth and final author-speaker in this series, Dr. Lucy Hone. Several years ago, Lucy suffered an unimaginable loss—the tragic death of her daughter. She’ll share her story of resilience, teach us how to harness our strengths to experience positive emotions while self-regulating the negative, and give insights for raising resilient children.
What might our world look like if we continued learning together, built awareness, grew our minds, changed our negative mindsets, applied the science, modified unhealthy behaviors, and rallied to raise positive children? I am picturing one very big, global village.
Tickets for Lucy’s presentation are still available for $15 – $25. Join us and share with others in your village.