Monday, December 05, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Six: Taking on Challenges

This is related to how much stress children have to deal with.  Many studies have shown that children with warm, caring, and trusting relationships with those close to them are less prone to stress.  Giving children some control in managing their stress will help prevent learned helplessness.  I found it interesting that a study found that being in child care within the first two years meant children were less likely to be anxious and fearful at four years of age.  Our own ability to find support and manage our stress also seems to have a direct correlation with our children's ability to do so.

I wasn't surprised to see that Galinsky had a big section of Carol Dweck's research about fixed versus growth mindsets.  Her research as shown that it is more effective to praise students for their effort than their intelligence.

There are two parenting styles that are not helpful in helping kids to regulate their emotions - and both of them involve expressing negative emotions towards their children:
1.  Alarmist: parents who see danger everywhere
2.  Intrusive: overprotective parents that don't allow their children to explore

How to promote the skill of handling challenges:
1.  Manage your own stress (teaching and leading by example seems to come up again and again!)
2.  Have friends to turn to when stressed - this will make you less likely to instead transmit this stress to your kids
3.  Take time for yourself
4.  Don't shield them from everyday stresses, as learning to deal with it is a necessary part of life.
5.  Having a warm, caring, and trusting relationship with them will help them to feel safe and secure.
6.  Encourage your children to be adventurous and take risks
7.  Figure out how they cope best when challenged and/or upset
8.  Make sure your expectations are appropriate for a child's unique temperament and personality
9.  Give them some control in managing their stress
     - help them in coming up with their own solutions for when facing a challenge, and in coming up with an alternate plan if the first one is unsuccessful
10.  Cultivate a growth mindset by praising their effort, not their personality


  1. Julie Park8:49 AM

    that's interesting about the daycare statement, i've only read about how daycare and preschools can do the opposite! this is from a site i read (research is cited at the end of the article and throughout) 'Over a thousand children were tracked from infancy to kindergarten by investigators at over 20 prominent research universities.

    Researchers found that the more time kids spent in non-maternal care during the first 4.5 years of life, the more behavioral problems they developed.'

    this book sounds really interesting! i'm always up for reading parenting books and i'm enjoying reading your daily write ups!

    here's the site:

  2. Julie Park8:56 AM

    haha, so i realized immediately after posting, that actually the study you mentioned makes a lot of sense. (for the record i don't think daycare or preschool are bad places at all) i just hadn't read anything about helping children be less anxious or fearful, and when you think about how those programs work, it does make sense that the child would learn to navigate the social world differently than one who was at home. interesting stuff!