Kids need challenges in order to grow, and we must be proactive about making sure we have spaces and structures that support this growth. There are multiple ways that we can actively and intentionally work to challenge the growth of both children and youth in our areas of influence and these build the foundation for resilience.
1. Encourage Kids to Keep Getting Better: Set realistically high expectations for kids and then help and support them so they can live up to their potential. Expand all possibilities and worldview by exposing youth to new flavors, cultures, experiences and ideas. Foster growth through failures by gently helping them learn as they experience setbacks. This is where major learning happens.
2. Set Boundaries: By holding kids accountable and insisting that they take responsibility for their actions and choices, we help them grow. Boundaries also keep kids safe and allow them the freedom to risk, grow, learn, and develop within them. Use our Parent Up resources to help you set and communicate expectations and clear rules about substance use. Help kids and teens discover their own interests and abilities. Respond to their motivations and initiatives.
3. Build a Growth Mindset: Basically, a “growth mindset” means believing all the traits we have (like intelligence or talent) is something that we can develop. In contrast to the growth mindset is a “fixed mindset” that believes these traits are not able to be developed. This TED Talk does a great job explaining the transformational power of fostering growth mindsets in our youth. This slight change in perspective leads to tremendous outcomes in youth. This site also has great ideas for parents who want to be intentional about fostering a growth mindset in their children.
4. Teach Kids about Their Amazing Brain: Adolescence is an amazing time of tremendous growth and learning. During this time, youth are learning all about the world and what their interests and passions are, so this rapid brain development is just right for this stage of life. This is why, for example, kids and teens can pick up a second language much more easily than adults. Unfortunately, these same mechanisms of the growing brain can also be altered by things like toxic stress and substance use to damage the brain. Learn about brain science and teach it to youth. Teach kids that they have control over growing their brains and they can do things to both grow and also damage their brains.
5. Rephrase Your Praise: How we praise children and youth has a profound impact on their growth. Keep your compliments away from trait-based or talent-based compliments and praise effort, hard work, and growth instead. Below are some examples of how we can rephrase our praise to promote growth and resilience: