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Three Rules for Raising Resilient Kids

With the new school year in full swing, we all desire for our kids to thrive and succeed in both the classroom and in life. Yet, current research in brain science and behavior points to an unfolding tragic scenario that’s threatening this goal.

A 2019 PEW survey finds that 70% of teens ages 13-17 rank depression and anxiety—more so than bullying and addiction—as the most critical issues among their peers. Nearly 90% of American high school students report that “pressured perfectionism” is a major source of stress. This pressure to succeed is so great that 60% of teens report getting good grades is more stressful than appearance and social acceptance. What does this all mean?

Our 20th-century parenting model fails kids to survive and thrive in a 21st-century world. 

As I discuss in my upcoming book Science of a Happy Brain: Thriving in the Age of Anger, Anxiety, and Addiction, we need to equip our kids with the tools for resilience. In my years as an educator, I find the following three “rules”—often overlooked by parents—are what eventually enhance a child’s ability for success. Here they are:

Rule #1– It’s OK not to be OK. We need to remove the stigma around mental illness—especially depression and anxiety—while teaching kids to accept how failure prepares them to face life’s challenges.

Rule #2–Adversity and strife can build character. With a strongly built cognitive and mental foundation, every little crisis no longer feels like a proverbial head-on collision.

Rule #3–There is no you without relationships and community. Helping children recognize their interconnectedness to others and contribution to humanity build their empathy and compassion.

As educators and parents, learning to instill these three rules into our kids’ life guarantees their success, health, and happiness in the classroom and beyond.

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