I was researching some topics for us to cover at our Teen Summit in August and I came across this article by John Cowan that discussed a topic that most of us don't think about when it comes to preparing our kids for life-Resilience.  Check out what he had to say here:


The fifth challenge for parents today is to give our kids resilience. “One thing that we can guarantee our young people, sadly, is that bad things will happen to good people. We can’t tell them that life is fair – it isn’t. We have to acknowledge that randomness and chaos happen in the universe. The most important gifts we can give our kids are the skills, the knowledge and the strategies to deal with it when it happens.”

He concedes that it is harder to do that with young people today. “It’s vastly different. We didn’t have the levels of family breakdown that we have now. There were more of what I call psychological moorings – the church, the community and so on. But now children grow up in emotional silos. They don’t have that level of social connectedness that they had in the past. A hundred years ago we sat around fires and told kids stories – and there’s huge power in the narrative – and I think we have stopped telling kids stories. This is how they learned, this is how parents passed on their values to children, and I don’t think we are doing that anymore.”

Can we not just assume young people will learn these skills for themselves? “It’s very hard. If you take your average 14-year-old boy, he has just had an 800 percent increase in testosterone. They have the attention span of a Border Collie. They fundamentally believe they have this cloak of immortality draped around them and nothing will ever happen to them.”

When challenged that many problems facing younger people could be fixed with harsher laws and stricter discipline at home, Carr-Gregg replies cautiously, “If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have said, ‘Nonsense!’, but in fact I do think we have a bit of a problem now, where parents are hesitant to set limits and boundaries, they are hesitant to use moral language, and the overwhelming trend is to create a culture of entitlement and indulgence. I don’t think that works well for kids. I think we have to have a ‘behaviour economy’ at home and that is, consequential learning. If you know what the rules are and you stuff up, then 100 percent of the time, there has to be a consequence! With respect to the harshness of the sanctions, what we know is that the more you belt kids the more dysfunctional they become, so that doesn’t work. But if a kid makes a mistake and you let it go through to the wicket keeper every single time, the message we give to that kid is that that is okay. So I am into consistent and reasonable parenting.”

A tricky part of parenting is adjusting the limits as they get older. “It is very difficult, because age doesn’t define maturity. That’s why you need to be that world expert I talked about – an expert about your kids, to know their temperament. The most common question I get asked is, ‘At what age should you let a child have a mobile phone?’ You’ve got to ask yourself three questions. Does your child have a track record of making good choices and keeping themselves safe? Second, do they hang out with people who do the same thing? And thirdly, what sort of temperament do they have – are they risk-takers? The answers to those questions should determine how much responsibility you give your child, because the greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.”

Getting specifically to the topic of resilience, Carr-Gregg sees five characteristics, and just one of them may be enough to make all the difference in the world.

  1. A charismatic adult that they can draw strength from
  2. Social and emotional competence that they have learnt from adults modelling it to them, especially how to handle conflict and other peoples’ emotion
  3. A spiritual dimension – something that gives them meaning, purpose and belonging, a connectedness to something transcendent
  4. Positive self-talk, as opposed to automatically thinking negatively and self-critically
  5. ‘Islands of confidence’ – usually discovered with pro-social peers through healthy risk taking

Growing up has changed so much and sometimes I think that we take for granted some of the lessons we learned. I spent summers playing streetball, manhunt with the whole block, every Friday having to do the yard work with my brothers and sisters, playing board games together, and card games like SPOONS. You can read the whole article here:




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