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August 31, 2016

Helping Children Learn to Take on Challenges

Editor’s Note: In this series, Mind in the Making facilitators share their experiences guiding workshops for parents, educators, caregivers and healthcare professionals throughout the Suncoast. In May, The Patterson Foundation funded training for 31 people through the Mind in the Making Facilitator Institute, which breaks down executive functions into seven essential life skills that help children achieve their goals.

We all know that life can be full of stresses and challenges. How do we deal with it all and how do we encourage children to do the same? 

This Mind in the Making module was the most inspiring for me. As Mind in the Making author Ellen Galinsky points out, each person is unique, and we all respond to stress in different ways. The module about taking on challenges reminds us that we can’t hide from life’s everyday challenges, but we can help our children understand how to manage life’s challenges starting at birth.  

According to research, children who are willing to take on challenges (instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them) do better in school and in life. Simply responding to stress positively can help parents help their children. Modeling good coping strategies is a place to start. This module presents 13 practical suggestions for parents to learn how to encourage children to take on challenges in healthy ways. 

1) Manage your own stress

2) Turn to others who can help you manage stress

3) Take time for yourself

4) Don’t shield your child from everyday stresses

5) Know that a warm, caring and trusting relationship with your child makes you a stress buster

6) Try to keep your own “alarm button” on low

7) Understand your child’s temperament and observe what your child does to calm down — build on his or her strengths

8) Promote “goodness expectations”

9) Give your child appropriate levels of control in managing stress

10) If your child is shy, let him or her watch new situations first and then introduce change slowly

11) Promote your child’s special interests, talents, and passions

12) Cultivate a growth mindset in your children

13) Praise your child’s effort and strategies — not his or her personality 

The Mind in the Making training enhanced and helped change my own mindset by encouraging me to adopt a “growth mindset” — one that embraces challenges and my ability to develop my own personal skills to reduce stress.

Parents, educators, and caregivers interested in learning more about Mind In The Making facilitated workshops are encouraged to call or email Beth Duda at The Patterson Foundation (941) 952-1413,

photo credit: Coalition Builds New Playground in One Day for Chicora-Cherokee Community via photopin (license)

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