How to Discipline Your Child - Teach Resiliency

Jamie gets so upset when kids tease her about her freckles. Lucas doesn't read well, and he comes home crying about how the kids make fun of him. Isn't there some way to help my child deal successfully with these down times? It's so painful to see my child hurting.

Good news! You can teach children resiliency - how to be comfortable in their own skin and successfully survive failures and being different. It's one of the 3 Rs of the unleashing parental love parenting approach: respect, responsibility, and resiliency. Here are three components of resiliency you need to teach.

1. Make failure a positive experience. Some days kids seem to make mistakes every time they turn around. And it's not natural for parents to be positive when mistakes happen: "Your room is such a mess; you are so irresponsible." But you can make failure a positive experience by saying instead, "Let's find a way to clean your room that works for you so that you do it by yourself without being asked." This is how you get your child to stick with failure until success happens. The rule of thumb: Make conquering failure successful through positive experiences. Count on it being hard at first, but with practice you'll get the knack of it.

2. Know (accept) thyself. The ancient Greeks were on to something. Knowing and accepting oneself is the foundation of resilience. Teaching resiliency often feels insurmountable, but when parents use the following simple focus, everything works a lot better: Help your child know and accept his or her feelings, the energy source that makes your child tick. Don't focus on what your child does by telling him you're sick and tired of his arguing. Instead focus on the core (feelings) of who your child is: "You must really befrustrated with my not understanding you. I'll be quiet while you tell me what you feel." Listen and validate all of your child's feelings, then problem-solve. Resiliency is all about your child getting to know and accept "who I am" on the inside.

3. Being different is okay. Being different comes in two forms: our physical features and what we think and feel about something. When your child's being teased about being overweight, you want her to respond positively: "I am a little overweight, but everyone's different. It's not a big deal, and I'm exercising to handle it." And your teenager needs to feel comfortable expressing differing points of view (respectfully) with you. How do you pull this off? Use this proven approach: Continually validate your child's inside thoughts and feelings, which will help your child know and accept him- or herself (the second part of resiliency). Feeling comfortable with what's inside (feelings and thoughts) makes it easier to deal with outside problems.

Follow these guidelines and watch your child's resiliency take root.

Gary M Unruh MSW LCSW has counseled more than 2500 children and their families for over forty years. Read about his breakthrough parenting approach, Unleashing Parental Love, in his award winning 2010 book, Unleashing the Power of Parental Love: 4 Steps to Raising Respectful and Self-Confident Kids. Visit his website for more information (media section included):

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