I was really impressed with an article I read in the July 2012 issue of Parents magazine by Francesca Castagnoli. In her article “Say the Right Thing,” she spoke about how her mom used to talk to her as a child and how she knows her mom had good intentions, but Francesca did not always understand the advice her mother was giving her. Now as a mother of two, she wonders if her words are more of a comfort or confusion to her children. We all want our children to be able to cope with the stresses of life, but it is important that we give them the correct advice as they learn to deal with disappointment and the relentless pressures of school, sports, social life and the transition to adulthood.
In the article “Say the Right Thing,” the author points out a few key phrases that parents should have memorized as children come to them with problems and stress. First, the phrase, “I have to think about that.” According to Dr. Mogel, parents often feel like they have to give their children an immediate response. Taking your time to make an informed decision not only helps you make a better decision, it also models to the child patience when making a decision. Second, “How does that make you feel?” When we ask our kids how they feel about their accomplishments and their decisions, it gives them the opportunity to reflect on what they have done, both good and bad. As parents, if we constantly tell them how they should feel or how we feel about their decisions, they don’t learn to recognize their own feelings.
The article goes on to point out a few more key phrases like, “Let’s see if we can find something good in this,” and “Take a breath,” or “Would you like a do-over?” These types of phrases allow you to respond to your children in a way that gives them direction while promoting the expansion of their own thoughts.
In addition, Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, specializing in pediatric medicine, believes that children can learn to develop their own inner strength and resilience by fostering competency through “empowering children to make decisions.” He also says that children can gain confidence when they are able to recognize when they have done well.
This topic of teaching our children to handle stress is not going away any time soon. The world continues to get faster and faster, which more pressure and expectations. Teaching your children when they are young to identify their feelings and take the time they need to make a good decision can help them as they mature and face even more difficult challenge ahead.